Science fair season culminates in international qualification


Lakshmi Prasad

THE FINAL PRODUCT. Sophomores Govind Nadathur and Arvind Prasad with their trifold presentation at the Buckeye Science and Engineering Fair (BSEF) on April 6. The last round of the state fair, Nadathur says, was “an intense Q&A with 15 doctorates” that helped to prepare himself and Prasad for the Q&A they will face at the Intel International Science and Engineering fair (ISEF). “We’ve spent several hours practicing presenting and making sure we could answer all the questions,” Nadathur said.

What do “hundreds of hours of research,” including what Govind Nadathur calls “over 60 hours in the school’s laboratory,” produce?

For Nadathur and fellow sophomore Arvind Prasad, a pollution- and UV-ray-defying skin cream and qualification for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world’s largest and most prestigious pre-college science fair.

After finding success at SHS’s science fair in January, the regional science fair at the University of Cincinnati (UC) in March, the Buckeye Science & Engineering Fair (BSEF) in April, winning the UC Environmental Engineering Award and the General Electric (GE) Aviation Engineering Award, and qualifying for the Genius Olympiad, Nadathur and Prasad will take their project to the world stage.

The two began work on the project, titled “Optimizing Hydrogels in Cosmetics: Creating Effective Self-Assembled Nanostructures Coupled with an Antioxidant-Rich and High SPF Pollution-fighting Soybean Oil Cream,” in June 2018, after the idea arose through personal inspiration.

“I have a lot of friends and family in developing countries who suffer from issues such as skin cancer and skin aging and they’re caused from pollution that affects your face. So I wanted to create a barrier that stops this damage from happening,” Nadathur said.

So how has the pair made it through 10 months of researching, hypothesizing, testing and re-testing, analyzing, and presenting?

“The hardest part of this process was not giving up and… solving many issues that we came across in our research. We’re really passionate about helping people and creating solutions, and we really wanted to remedy this issue to help our relatives,” Nadathur said.

As for the other four SHS projects that competed at the BSEF (this year being the first year that more than one have qualified), excellence continues to be a pervasive theme.

Junior Drew Ripberger won the UC Presidential scholarship and the GE Aviation Engineering Award, with juniors Hari Iyer and Rohan Mathur winning the UC School of information technology scholarship and senior Mohit Dighamber taking home a $2500 scholarship to UC college of engineering, and qualifying for the Genius Olympiad.

Freshman Claire Atkinson and senior Christine Zhou also competed at the BSEF, comprising the other two qualifying projects.

Mathur expressed his well wishes for Nadathur and Prasad and pride in all of the SHS projects that competed this year.

“Of course I’m happy for them. They put a lot of work in and they definitely deserve to make it, as, in my opinion, I think, all of the Sycamore projects deserve to make it—especially Mohit’s, because Mohit’s really cool. I do legitimately think that most if not all of the Sycamore projects deserved to make it to ISEF,” Mathur said.

Nadathur, similarly, took the opportunity to congratulate his peers, saying they “also worked very hard” and “all had amazing projects.”

Prasad and Nadathur will travel to Phoenix, AZ, on May 12, 2019, to compete against over 1,700 students from more than 70 countries, territories, and regions at the ISEF.