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Local student qualifies for international science fair; more than 30 headed to state contest

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Jiang Buchholz High School student Helena Jiang has qualified for the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair after winning top honors at the regional fair.

Jiang won Best in Show and had the highest overall score in the Senior Division (high school) of the Alachua Regional Science and Engineering Fair, which automatically earns her a spot in the international competition. She also won first place in the Chemistry Division with her project ‘Characterization of novel reconfigurable mid-IR metalenses enabled by phase change materials’ and won special awards from the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force and the Florida Association of Science Teachers.

Himanshi Verma of Eastside High School also won Best in Show honors at the regional fair in the Senior Division. Verma’s project ‘Exploring the efficacy of a novel ocular drug formulation in alleviating neurodegenerative diseases’ also took first place in the Biomedical and Health Sciences Division and won special awards from Altrusa and the United States Air Force.


Verma This is the third straight year that Jiang has won Best of Show honors in the regional competition. She also took the Grand Award at the 2019 State Science and Engineering Competition and a first place award in Chemistry in the 2019 international fair. Verma took Best of Show in the 2018 regionals, first place in that year’s state competition and 4th place in her division at the International Fair.

In the Junior (middle school) division, two students shared Best in Show honors at this year’s regional fair. They were Westwood Middle School student Matthew Settles with a Life Science project called ‘Is it possible to tell the ripeness of a watermelon by the volatiles in its rind?’ and fellow Westwood student Isaac Savin with his project “How does viscosity of a liquid determine how it splashes.’ Settles won a special Broadcom award, while Savin earned additional awards from the U.S. Navy, Broadcom and the Florida Association of Science Teachers,

All four students are among 31 local middle and high school students who have qualified to represent Alachua County in the State Science and Engineering Fair, which will be held in Lakeland in late March. High school students can also qualify for the international fair with a top performance at the state contest. Middle school students are not eligible for the international competition.

The students who will be representing Alachua County in the State Science and Engineering Fair include:

Settles Senior Division:

Anjana Balachandar, Buchholz High School

Angela Gao, Buchholz High School

Helena Jiang, Buchholz High School

Aditi Shukla, Buchholz High School

Jeffrey Xue, Buchholz High School

Savin Brindha Rathinasabapathi, Eastside High School

Himanshi Verma, Eastside High School

Akash Verma, Eastside High School

Jad Helmy, Gainesville High School

Junior Division:

Connor Ely, Ft. Clarke Middle School

Natheniel James, Ft. Clarke Middle School

Grace Yoon, Ft. Clark Middle School

Daniel Tapia-Ruano and Damien Bell, High Springs Community School

Kathryn Law, Howard Bishop Middle School

Quinn Vaughn, Howard Bishop Middle School

Jackson Collins, Oak View Middle School

Aubrey Fournier, Oak View Middle School

Elizabeth Nowicki, Oak View Middle School

Alex Wynn, Oak View Middle School

Jasper Anderson, Westwood Middle School

Emlyn Arner, Westwood Middle School

Kayleigh Denton, Westwood Middle School

Flora Jane Freer, Westwood Middle School

Finn McDermott, Westwood Middle School

Clara Milosevic, Westwood Middle School

Logan Rockwell, Westwood Middle School

Isaac Savin, Westwood Middle School

Matthew Settles, Westwood Middle School

Kiera Shepherd and Lukas Scott, Westwood Middle School