Capital Region Youths Vie for Upstate New York Junior Science Prize

Contact: Vincent Reda, 518-437-4985

Four Capital Region students from Academy of Holy Names, Saratoga Springs, Hoosic Valley and Hoosick Falls high schools will be among 30 outstanding young scholars from 13 New York counties presenting their experimental research in the annual Upstate New York Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) Thursday and Friday, March 29-30, at the Turf Inn on Wolf Road, Colonie.

The New York JSHS event is sponsored this year, as it has since 1986, by UAlbany's Department of Biological Sciences and the U.S. Departments of Army, Navy and Air Force, through grants administered by the Academy of Applied Science.

Each of the 30 students will be competing on Thursday from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in one of five "speaker categories:" (1) Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Physical Science; (2) Biology I: Cellular/Subcellular; (3) Behavioral Science, Psychology; (4) Botany, Ecology, Environmental Science; and (5) Biology II: Tissues/Organisms.

The winners of those categories will then repeat their presentations Friday from 8:30 - 9:45 a.m. in competition for a grand prize of $4,000 and the opportunity to present at the National JSHS in Orlando, Fla., April 25-29. National scholarships of $16,000, $8,000 and $2,000 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place will be awarded at that event.

Archer Batcheller from Hoosick Falls Central School will compete in the computer science, engineering, mathematics and physical science category; Erin Etoll of the Academy of Holy Names (Albany) in the Biology I: Cellular/Subcellular category; Jeffrey Valla of Saratoga Springs High School in the Botany, Ecology, Environmental Science category; and Alicia Dowd of Hoosic Valley High School in the Biology II: Tissues/Organisms category.

More than 600 students and teachers from 68 schools are expected to attend the Upstate JSHS, which will also include competition among 30 additional high schoolers in a professional scientific poster session, from 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.

After the final competition on Friday, conference participants will tour lab facilities on the UAlbany Uptown and East campuses, including the Center for Comparative Functional Genomics, Center for Materials Research, Institute for Materials, Center for Technology in Government, Linear Accelerator Lab, and X-Ray Optic Lab. They will also meet UAlbany science faculty and hear them discuss their current research.

Guest speaker at the event is Dr. Jill Tartar from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, Calif. Her talk, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, is "SETI 2020: A Roadmap for Future SETI Observing Projects." Dr. Tartar received her Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley and is the recipient of many scientific awards.

Tartar is co-founder of the SETI Institute, whose purpose is to conduct scientific research and educational projects relevant to the nature, prevalence, and distribution of life in the Universe. She is also director of the Institute's Project Phoenix, which involves a high-resolution microwave search for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.

Since its inception in 1958, the primary aims of JSHS are to promote research and experimentation at the secondary school level and to recognize students for original research achievements. In 1986, UAlbany biologist and then dean of Mathematics and Science Daniel Wulff founded the Upstate New York JSHS in order to provide a forum for New York students from counties north of New York City. Last spring, when nearly 600 students participated in the JSHS, 125 asked to present their research, but only 30 could be afforded the opportunity.

For that reason, in 2000 Wulff successfully pursued a $380,000 five-year grant from the Charitable Venture Foundation. Beginning next year, these funds will create mini-symposia in the Capital, Westchester, and Syracuse regions that will accommodate approximately 125 high school research presenters.

For further information, contact Blanche Feck of the UAlbany Department of Biological Sciences, at 518-442-4337.

For more University at Albany information, visit our World Wide Web site at

March 22, 2001


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