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ASR Competes in Synopsys Science Fair

By Lucy Panicacci

Culture Editor

On Mar. 9, Advanced Science Research (ASR) students from LGHS and Saratoga High School presented their inspiring science projects at the Synopsys Silicon Valley Science and Technology Championship. The Synopsys Science Fair celebrates the independent project-based research of future scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. For their projects, these dedicated students spent months researching, experimenting, and analyzing their findings. 

LGHS junior Taj Chunawala focused on the use of a proton pump inhibitor on gut bacteria. “[A] proton pump inhibitor is a medication that a lot of people use to treat acid reflux or chronic acid reflux,” Chunawala explained, “but I was wondering if it would have any harmful effects on the bacteria in your gut.” After seven and a half months of independent research and work, Chunawala finalized his findings on the detrimental effects of proton pump inhibitors on gut bacteria. With this project in particular, Chunawala enjoyed applying his interest in chemistry. 

Senior Sasha Balasingam focused on the biology side of things. Balasingam stated, “My science project was testing autism behaviors on C. elegans [microscopic worms] to try and identify models of autism in C. elegans using different genes, and then trying to treat specific autistic behavior — repetitive and social behavior.” Balasingam has worked on this project for the last three years. In the first year, she specifically focused on identifying the model of autism; then, in the second year, she focused on treating autism repetitive behavior. For the final third year, she used a new model to work on social behavior. 

Senior Victoria Anderson’s ASR project concentrated on multiple sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease, and its relation to the microbiome, the bacteria and fungi that naturally live in humans. In her project, she tested the effects of Vitamin B-12 on the bacteria and fungi in the microbiome that are affected by multiple sclerosis. During this six-month project, Anderson tackled the issue of applying her research to an accurate model for humans, while also completing her AP Research report. 

Throughout the course of their projects, students persevered through time constraints and high workloads. Senior Stanley Shen, who researched plant-based environmentally friendly computers, stated, “Lab work takes a really long time and can feel endless at times, so finding time to do lab work and juggling homework and all of the other things took a bit of work.” As detailed, despite these obstacles, ASR students completed innovative, creative projects. 

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