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3 students’ WKU-mentored research honored in 2013 Siemens Competition

Two Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky at WKU students and one South Warren High School student have had their WKU-mentored research recognized by the Siemens Foundation as national semifinalists in the 2013 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology.

Three students had their WKU-mentored research recognized in the 2013 Siemens Competition. From left: South Warren High School student Jack Broaddus and Gatton Academy students Julia Gensheimer and Isaac Kresse. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

Three students had their WKU-mentored research recognized as national semifinalists in the 2013 Siemens Competition. From left: South Warren High School student Jack Broaddus and Gatton Academy students Julia Gensheimer and Isaac Kresse. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

Isaac Kresse, a Gatton Academy senior from Louisville, was recognized in the individual competition. Julia Gensheimer, a Gatton Academy junior from Bowling Green, and Jack Broaddus, a South Warren High School junior from Bowling Green, were honored in the team category.

The Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology is known as the nation’s premier research program for high school students. This year 2,440 students registered for the competition with a total of 1,559 projects submitted for consideration; 331 semifinalists were named.

“The Siemens Competition is as big as it gets in high school research recognition. Being named a semifinalist puts these students in an elite crowd of the nation’s top high school researchers,” said Derick Strode, the Gatton Academy’s assistant director of academic services.

Strode’s comments were echoed by Dr. Matthew Nee, assistant professor of chemistry, who mentored Kresse.

“Many WKU and Academy students are involved in undergraduate research with faculty members in our department, but the Siemens Competition demands a considerable effort after the laboratory work is done,” Nee said. “It is a great opportunity for students to see that only a small fraction of the research process is the actual experiments. The weeks of effort spent analyzing data to reach sound conclusions and preparing the contextualized report are more representative of the full cycle that professional researchers must complete.”

Kresse discussed how his research expanded on his Gatton Academy coursework.

“While working with Dr. Nee, I was able to develop a reactor for analyzing reaction mechanisms in a way that few had ever done before. I find it exciting to learn something you can’t just find in a textbook and then use that knowledge to create something new,” Kresse said.

Gensheimer and Broaddus developed a team project through WKU’s Institute for Combustion Science and Environmental Technology under the direction of Dr. Yan Cao, director of ICSET and professor of chemistry.

Dr. Cao said diligence and teamwork made Gensheimer and Broaddus a successful research team.

“Julia and Jack are both highly motivated and hard-working students. They always had insightful ideas on how to carry out their research. I was surprised by their abilities to handle sophisticated scientific work so early in their research experiences and to work so well as collaborative partners,” Dr. Cao said.

Reflecting on her experience, Gensheimer said, “Not only did I learn a lot about graphene, but working at ISCET and entering the Siemens Competition taught me time management, communication skills, and the research process from experiment design to a complete lab report. Best of all, my partner and I were able to work with wonderful mentors and share our discoveries with others.”

Kresse’s study was supported over the summer by the Gatton Research Internship Grant. Both Gensheimer and Broaddus were supported over summer through the American Chemical Society’s Project SEED Program.

About the Gatton Academy: The Gatton Academy offers a residential program for bright, highly motivated Kentucky high school students who have demonstrated interest in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Sixty students each year are admitted to the program through a competitive process. Instead of spending their junior and senior years in traditional high schools, students enroll in the Gatton Academy and live in a uniquely dedicated residence hall. The goals of the Gatton Academy are to enable Kentucky’s exceptional young scientists and mathematicians to learn in an environment that offers advanced educational opportunities and to prepare them for leadership roles in Kentucky. At the end of two years, Gatton Academy students will have earned at least 60 college credit hours in addition to completing high school.

About the Siemens Foundation: The Siemens Foundation provides more than $7 million annually in support of educational initiatives in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the United States. Its signature programs include the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement, and The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, which encourages K-12 students to develop innovative green solutions for environmental issues.  By supporting outstanding students today, and recognizing the teachers and schools that inspire their excellence, the Foundation helps nurture tomorrow’s scientists and engineers.  The Foundation’s mission is based on the culture of innovation, research and educational support that is the hallmark of Siemens’ U.S. companies and its parent company, Siemens AG.

Contact: Chad Phillips, (270) 745-6565.

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