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4 Rockdale Magnet School students shine on international science stage
Third place at ISWEEP, ISEF
Ramar Allen and Carlan Ivey at ISWEEP 2015 - photo by Submitted photo/The Rockdale News

CONYERS - Four students from the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology (RMSST) - Ramar Allen, Carlan Ivey, Bhaskar Patel and Lilith South - were honored last month at science competitions across the country. Allen and Ivey each took home $150 and third place medals from the Eighth Annual International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering & Environment Project Olympiad (ISWEEEP) held in Houston, Tex. Patel and South shared $1,000 and third place honors in the field of Microbiology awarded May 15 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Ramar Allen, a junior at RMSST, was awarded for his research titled "The Effect of Concentrations of Bactericide on R. leguminosarum." Ramar was able to find a bacterioside resistant strain of nitrogen fixing bacteria. This research, which has significant implications in the fields of farming and agriculture, was conducted in the microbiology research lab at Rockdale Magnet School and mentored by John Hendrix.

"This research was really a lot of fun," said Ramar. He added, "Research has opened my eyes to many new fields of science. When I started at the Magnet School, I wanted to be a doctor, but now I see opportunities in all kinds of fields like medicine, agriculture, and microbiology."

Senior Carlan Ivey won for his work examining ionization mechanisms of high energy cosmic interactions. Through a collaborative effort between Carlan, mentors at Georgia State University, and John Hendrix at RMSST, Carlan used historical data and measurements of current atmospheric conditions to investigate how cosmic radiation might be impacting our atmosphere, environment, and weather.

"I am so excited to have two third place winners from this international event," said Hendrix. He also praised they students for asking great research questions and for having the motivation and perseverance to find the answers.

The ISWEEP event was a learning opportunity for Ivey and Allen, allowing them to visit Houston's Museum of Natural Science and NASA's Johnson Space Center. Allen also found the chance to meet students from around the world as one of the highlights of the trip. "We literally got to meet people from every corner of the earth at ISWEEEP," said Allen. "I learned so much about other cultures, how students in other countries learn, and how friendly they are."

As Ivey and Allen were arriving home from their trip to Houston's ISWEEEP another group of Rockdale Magnet Students were just beginning their trip to the world's largest high school science research competition, the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), recently held in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Rockdale Magnet School was honored to send five students to Pittsburgh for this year's fair which featured 1,700 young scientists selected from 422 affiliate fairs in more than 75 countries, regions and territories. Bhaskar Patel and Lilith South were joined in Pittsburgh by senior Larry Jacobs, junior Molly Niemczyk, and sophomore Chyna Mays. The group was escorted to the fair by Rockdale Magnet School Research Coordinator Scott Bolen.

"It is exciting that our school of 300 students was able to send 5 representatives this year to such a wonderful and impactful event" said Bolen. "This was my second opportunity to attend an ISEF event, and I continue to be blown away by the quality of the student's work and the opportunities that these students have. A trip to ISEF is educational and rewarding unto itself, but then to have two students win 3rd place just speaks volumes about the work and efforts that our students put in to their research."

Patel and South won for their work examining a novel Chytrid treatment and its compatibility with amphibian tissue. This award winning project was a multi-year effort by the RMSST student researchers that actually got its genesis when Lilith South learned about the deadly Chytrid fungus and declining frog populations while in her elementary school science class.

"I have heard Lilith and Bhaskar deliver their research presentation many times during their career at RMSST and they are always so passionate about their work. When Lilith discusses her elementary school science class and the "Time for Kids" magazine and lesson that initially sparked her interest, it is both inspiring and humbling as a teacher," said Bolen. "Lilith and Bhaskar are both great examples of how students can engage in meaningful research and make a difference," he added.

Though not awarded at Intel ISEF, Larry Jacobs and Molly Niemczyk have both been recognized for their outstanding research efforts. Through his research efforts Jacobs has earned the opportunity to pursue his work at the prestigious Jackson Laboratory Summer Student Program this summer in Maine. Niemczyk research will take her to Philadelphia this July to represent the state of Georgia at the 2015 BIO International Convention. Additionally, Liltih South will travel to New York's Museum of Natural History later this summer to receive their Young Naturalist Award.