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Monday, February 18, 2013

2012 Best Young Scientist Paper Awards

Originally Published: February 18, 2013
Here are the 2012 Best Young Scientist Paper Awards in partnership with the NRC Research Press:
In Neuroscience and Psychology: Adelina Cozma, Bayview Secondary School, Richmond Hill, Ontario for “Novel learning in the brain”.
In this research, Adelina Cozma aims to examine how the brain acquires, learns, and overtly expresses new words in a foreign language relative to familiar, native-language words, and how new words are neurophysiologically absorbed after a short period of augmentative software training Adelina aimed to determine the spatio-temporal dynamics of the cognitive mechanisms involved in language acquisition using MEG and MRI techniques, and used three pieces of software to correlate her findings with the results of augmentative training.  This research reveals important new insights into the nature of foreign language processing; further work could prove instrumental to unraveling the mysteries associated with foreign language acquisition
In Mathematics: Anunay Kulshrestha, Delhi Public School, Dwarka New Delhi, India for “On the Hamming Distance between base-n representations of whole numbers”.
The Hamming distance is an expression of the difference between the original version of a message and the received message. It can be used either to correct an error found within a message, or to determine if a given piece of information has too many errors to be useful. In this paper, Kulshrestha derives a novel approach for calculating the Hamming distance between two consecutive whole numbers in any base. He proves that the Hamming distance between a number m and m-1 in base n is P + 1, where P is the exponent of the highest power of n contained m. From this formula, Kulshrestha also develops a method for calculating the sum of all such Hamming distances up to any given number in base n.
In Information Technologies: Nick Johnston, Semiahmoo Secondary School, Surrey, British Columbia for “Computer-aided telepathic communications”,
A fascinating, totally novel idea that creates a concept of non-Voice over IP communication. Nichlas Johnston’s experiment focused on EEG as a means of detecting brain patterns related to speech.  He was able to identify EEG patens of phonemes (and, by extension, words) as they are thought of by an individual.  These strings of phonemes could then be either transmitted to some future receiver or interpreted via a speech-to-text server and text-messaged via the Internet. This would enable those who cannot speak to successfully utilize the Internet as well as possibly change the speed of end user to end user communication.
In Environmental Science:  Adam Kaplon, Morristown High School, NJ, USA for “Transformation of Pseudomonas putida plasmids to transfer hydrocarbon degrading properties”
P. putida bacterium can degrade all hydrocarbons and, by extension, be a solution for oil spills.  However, this bacterium doesn’t occur naturally everywhere; often times, introducing a new organism into an ecosystem can generate further problems.  For this reason, it would be very useful to transfer the oil-cleaning properties of P. putida into other bacteria.  This is precisely what Adam Kaplon examines in his research.  After isolating the plasmid DNA (which is responsible for these properties) of P. putida Adam inserted into host strains through bacterial transformation in the hopes that these strains would assume biodegrading properties, thereby allowing a local bacterium to restore an ecosystem instead of a foreign species. The results indicate that further studies might prove highly useful to the scientific world.
In Physics: Sarah Battat, The Study School, Westmount, Quebec for “Polarization: Ray Ray Go Away”
The material that polarize a light beam are called a polarizers. Sarah Battat has carried out high level experiments with ferrofluid and an MRF as polarizers. Through the use of a magnet, their suspended iron particles were manipulated to lie in direction that was filtering orientation of light that the experimenter has chosen. In her experiments, Sarah tested the effectiveness of ferrofluids and MRFs when used as polarizers by varying the strength of the magnetic field and varying the orientation of the laser light. The outcome of this research by Sarah Battat was an evaluation of the ability of certain types of ferromagnetic substances to polarize light.
In Life Sciences: Jenny Xue, Moira Secondary School, Belleville, ON for “Does Light at Night Boost Appetite? A Study on Mice”
Obesity has become one of our society’s main burdens. Activity levels are just one class of factors that play a great part in one’s appetite, which directly correlates with one’s weight. Jenny Xue’s study reveals that, in mice, light at night (LAN) increases appetite by disturbing sleep and increasing overall activity level.  This research could prove useful to future studies concerning humans and, by extension, to eliminating the prevalence of obesity in our society.
In Biology:  Howard Feng, Ryan Murchie, and Aleixo Muise, Bayview Secondary School, Richmond Hill, Ontario, for “Identification of ezrin as a colonic substrate for protein tyrosine phosphatase sigma”,
Inflammatory bowel diseases are conditions that plague many people. Protein tyrosine phosphatase sigma (PTPσ) is one of many receptor-type proteins responsible for the varied functions of the cell.  It was inverstigated by Howard Feng, Ryan Murchie, and Aleixo Muise. Firstly, they carried out a thorough analysis of a variety of assays, seeing if ezrin may bind to the domains of PTP-sigma in vitro.  That done, they confirmed that the domain may directly dephosphorylate ezrin, thus providing strong evidence for ezrin’s role as a colonic substrate of PTP-sigma.

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