The Georgia Bio and the Georgia BioEd Institute today named Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology (RMSST) junior Molly Niemczyk as the winner of the 2015 Georgia BioGENEius Challenge, the premier competition for high school students that recognizes outstanding research and innovation in the biotechnology field.
As Georgia's BioGENEius finalist, Niemczyk will attend the 2015 BIO International Convention in Philadelphia, the industry's trade conference, where she will engage with leading companies, scientists and innovators currently transforming the scientific landscape in order to gain invaluable insights into an industry making significant contributions to the world.
Niemczyk said she is honored to be attending the BIO International Convention. When asked about the upcoming experience, she said, "I still can't believe I was selected to be a participant. Never did I think I would have the chance to communicate my research on the eye movements of different disabilities and disorders with so many people, even people from different countries. It's such a great opportunity to share my research and learn about the ideas and innovations of other students."
Molly Niemczyk's project, "In the Mind's Eye: Comparing Eye Movements and Ocular Patterns," focuses on the feasibility of a video diagnostic test for dyslexia and other disabilities that affect eye movements and/or cause ocular dysfunction. She used an eye tracker to follow the eyes of over 40 people who had either dyslexia, Parkinson's disease, or no disability, while participants watched a five-minute video she made. Her hope is that, one day, eye tracking technology, as opposed to paper, will be a common diagnostic tool; one that is more appealing and more accurate than the current tests available.
While in Philadelphia, Niemczyk will compete against students from the U.S. in the National BioGENEius Challenge, and if she progresses to the next round, will also compete against students from Canada and Germany in the International BioGENEius Challenge. The projects presented will represent a range of biotechnology topics such as healthcare, agriculture, and the environment.
Three first place winners in the categories of healthcare, sustainability and the environment will be named during a luncheon at the 2015 BIO International Convention featuring Tom Brokaw. The winners will receive a $7,500 cash prize. The BioGENEius Challenge is organized by the Biotechnology Institute, the national organization dedicated to biotechnology education.
"The Challenge highlights the breakthroughs made when we invest and encourage our younger generations to pursue their ideas. These students are facing the world's greatest problems head on and providing solutions to heal, feed, and fuel people and the environment," said Georgia Bio President and CEO Russell Allen. "Georgia Bio is excited to cheer Molly on in Philadelphia at the 2015 BIO International Convention as we already know that her research has great potential to help society as well as inspire others to pursue research projects."
"Our mission is to give these students an exciting and engaging setting to showcase their talents to help accelerate the development of the next-generation of scientists. The BioGENEius Challenge encourages students to apply their scientific knowledge to solve some of society's most pressing issues, allowing them to see the tremendous potential they have to make change in the world," said Dr. Lawrence Mahan, President of Biotechnology Institute. "Our mission is to bring together students and industry leaders to encourage the next generation of biotechnology leaders."
Georgia BioEd would also like to congratulate the runner-up, Agni Kumar of Milton High School for his outstanding project entitled, Evolution of Eukaryotic Ribosomes at Atomic Resolution. Agni and all of the competitors presented engaging and innovative projects.
Judging the 2015 Georgia BioGENEius were Kristina Buac, Research Scientist/Post Doc Department of Biochemistry, University of Georgia; Ralph L. Cordell, PhD, Scientific Education and Professional, Development Program Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Jamie L. Graham, Partner, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton; and Stephen MacDonald, Patent Agent, Biotechnology & Pharmaceutical Intellectual Property Practice Group, King & Spalding.
The Georgia BioGENEius Challenge is made possible through the sponsorship of King & Spalding and the firm's Women in IP group. The women IP partners support and have an interest in continuing to identify programs that encourage girls and young women to pursue scientific and technical educations.
The Biotechnology Institute is an independent, national nonprofit organization dedicated to education about the present and future impact of biotechnology. Its mission is to engage, excite and educate the public, particularly students and teachers, about biotechnology and its immense potential for solving human health, food and environmental problems. For more information, visit www.biotechinstitute.org.
The Georgia BioEd Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization serving educational purposes in support of Georgia's life science community. The Georgia BioEd Institute serves the life science community in through best practice dissemination, entrepreneurial support, workforce development, and bioscience education initiatives. The Georgia BioEd Institute is a division of Georgia Bio, the private, non-profit association that promotes the life sciences industry and university research in Georgia. Learn more at www.georgiabioed.org | www.gabio.org.