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March 7, 2011

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab



Budding scientists take honors, scholarship at PJAS event      


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Marc Williams, a senior at Quigley Catholic High School in Seven Fields, and Jacob Smith, a junior at Venango Catholic High School in Clarion, took top honors, including four-year scholarships to Slippery Rock University, in the 54th Annual Region IX meeting of the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, hosted at SRU.

            The daylong event drew 500 budding scientists in grades seven through 12 from the region. The event marked the 14th consecutive year the program was hosted at SRU.

            The SRU scholarship award is contingent on enrolling at SRU.

            Williams’ project was “Would You Drink Acid?” Smith’s project was “The Effects of Specific Wavelength Light on E.coli” in the microbiology category.

            Janet Bonislawsky was Williams’ sponsor; Lauren Satkowski was Smith’s.

            The students presented the results of their science research projects to judges in eight- to 10-minute discussions. Nearly two dozen SRU faculty and more than 40 SRU students, many from Beta Beta Beta, the biology honorary, were among the 180 volunteer judges.

            Participants earning $100 awards presented by SRU academic departments and $30 gift certificates presented by the regional PJAS were:

            Katelyn Sump, a sophomore from Sharpsville High School, who presented “Red eye review” in the senior high biology category; and

            Taylor Borrelli, a freshman at Freeport Senior High School, who presented “Will water boiled in the microwave inhibit E. coli better than water boiled on the stove?” in the junior high biology category.

            Jack Ference, Sump’s sponsor, and Donald Orlowski, Borrelli’s sponsor, were each presented the $200 Biology Mentor Award, which may be used for science supplies at their respective high schools.

            Others receiving cash and certificate awards as top in their category were:

  • Lake Sankey, an eighth grader at Butler Junior High School, for a project titled “Crazy eights” in the junior high mathematics category. Sponsor: Veronica Sankey.
  • Tim Borrelli, a junior at Freeport Senior High School, for his project “Does UV light affect the strength of monofilament fishing line?” in the senior high chemistry category. Sponsor: Don Orlowski
  • Mark Cessar, an eighth grader at Slippery Rock Middle School, for his project “Which wood burns the hottest,” in the junior high chemistry category. Sponsor: Jessica Schroeffel.

            The junior academy science committee also presented two cash awards in behavioral science from the Butler County Center for Community Resources; the Chick Stewart Award for a future teacher; and two Innovation Awards.

            Kadie Fritz, an SRU biology major from Jeannett, was presented the annual $250 William R. Sigmund PJAS Award, created four years ago to honor Sigmund’s dedication to the program. Fritz was cited for her work in helping organize this year’s program.

            Robert Smith, SRU president, welcomed the judges, and William Williams, provost and vice president for academic affairs, spoke to the students, mentors and parents at the awards ceremony.

             “As a biologist, I am inspired by seeing so many young scientists here on our campus to present the results of their scientific investigations. I appreciate your enthusiasm and your love for the sciences. I know how many weeks – or months – of hard work went into your projects,” William Sigmund, SRU biology professor and campus coordinator for the program, said at the awards ceremony.

            Students earning first place awards at SRU may now compete on the state level in May.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.