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 Area school scientists earn honors at PJAS event 




March 2, 2009

Contact: K.E. Schwab  



Area school scientists earn honors at PJAS event


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Daniel Sheehan, a senior at Karns City High School and Sarah Horner, a junior at Butler Area High School, were awarded recipients of $12,000 Slippery Rock University Scholarships as winners in the Region IX Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science event Feb. 21.

            Sheehan's presentation was about "Titanium Thermite Reactions," and Horner offered "Peppermint Pick-Me-Up," a behavioral science study. Both also receive $100 awards from Sigma XI, the SRU chapter of the national scientific research society.

            "We are pleased to award these scholarships if these students elect to attend SRU," said William Sigmund, SRU biology processor and coordinator of the annual event. 

            The William R. Sigmund Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science Award, created two years ago by the academy to honor Sigmund's dedication and service to the program, was presented to Susan Vangavree, an SRU biology major from Mifflintown.

            The 52nd annual science meeting, hosted by SRU, drew an estimated 525 junior high and high school science students from school districts throughout the western Pennsylvania region.

            Susan Hannam, dean of SRU's College of Health, Environment and Science, welcomed the students, 100 teacher-sponsors and nearly 200 parents to the awards ceremony. 

            "I am gratified at seeing so many young scientists on campus to present the results of their scientific investigations. I certainly appreciate your enthusiasm and love for the sciences as well as the weeks and/or months of hard work you have put into your projects," Sigmund said in opening the daylong event. He also outlined mathematics and science opportunities at SRU. 

            The SRU biology department presented $100 awards to Abby Walsh, a senior at Knock High School, for her biology work on pollution, and to Victoria Sawhney, an eighth grader at Butler Catholic Junior-Senior High School, for her "How Energy Drinks Influence Heart Rate" research.

            Walsh's sponsor, Ray Greco, and Sawhney's sponsor, Jayne Chobot, received $100 Mentor Awards from the department.

            The SRU mathematics department presented a $100 award to Douglas Feil, a senior at Freeport Senior High, for his "Fractal Analysis of the Mandebrot Equations" work.

            Twenty members of the SRU faculty and 35 SRU students, including those from Beta Beta Beta, the biology honorary, served as judges.

            All students earning "First Place" honors at the regional event now advance to the state competition at State College in May.

            Next year's event is set for Feb. 27.


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.

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