Seniors Ayan Bandyopadhyay and Anin Sayana were recently identified as semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search (STS). The competition, which encourages students to take on challenging scientific questions as a means toward developing the skills that will be needed to solve the problems of tomorrow, is considered the nation’s most prestigious pre-college science competition.
Entrants must write a research report based upon their independent science research. The research report is weighted heavily in the judging process, with judges also looking for exceptional research skills, commitment to academics and community, innovative thinking and promise as a scientist. Only 300 students qualified as semifinalists, from which 40 will be invited to compete in final judging.
Ayan began the research for his project, The Effect of Cobalt Biomineralization on Power Density in a Microbial Fuel Cell, in his sophomore year at Bellarmine. “I became interested in biological process in microbes as a result of freshman year biology, and some independent study on the subject led me to learn about microbial fuel cells,” he said. “In layman’s terms, efficient microbial fuel cells, like the one I built, would turn wastewater treatment plants, which typically use electricity to purify wastewater, into a source of renewable energy.”
Anin worked on optimizing a cancer peptide vaccine for glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer, by analyzing how the immune system processed the vaccine. His initial interest in cancer research was kick-started by his grandfather’s fight against cancer.
“I’ve been researching a variety of cancers throughout high school,” he said “and started working on this particular project, Accelerating Cancer Immunotherapy: Optimization of an EGFRvlll-based Cancer Vaccine via Computationally-aided Analysis of Proteasome Processing for Improved Glioblastoma Prognosis, in April 2014.”
As with all scientific research, the students have plans for continued work on their projects. Ayan is looking for ways to increase electrode surface area in microbial fuel cells in order to further increase their power output, whereas Anin is hoping to make the vaccine more effective.
Bellarmine faculty member, Dr. Debjani Roy, PhD, knows both students through their involvement with the STEM-MED club on campus. “Both Ayan and Anin are fantastic young scientists in the making,” she said. “Their projects are particularly special because they are aimed at solving two major research problem areas – alternate energy and curing cancer. Both are futuristic, and contribute to the progress of these areas of research done in current industrial and academic research institutes.”