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2018 Japan Student Science Fair

Written by Meghana Karan

Three IMSA students: Shubhi Verma (’19), Jake Sutter (’19), and Louise Lima
(’19), attended the Japan Super Science Fair (JSSF) held by Ritsumeikan
University in Kyoto, Japan. This yearly science fair hosts high schools from
around the world from countries such as India, China, Kenya, Iran, and many
more, allowing a wide diversity of research to presented. The three students went
with the SIR department during the week of November 12th, 2018 to present their
research at the fair after being selected by the department. Their research ranged
from topics in neuroscience, the overlap between physics and biology, and
applied math.

Shubhi Verma (’19) researched under Dr. Harry Xenias at Northwestern
University, and her project revolves around understanding the mechanisms
involved in Parkinson’s disease. She specifically looked at the basal ganglia,
which is essentially a large group of nuclei in the brain. Her research focused on
two of these nuclei: the external globus pallidus and the dorsal striatum, and
examined the interactions between these two nuclei. One of the major factors in
the development of Parkinson’s disease is the basal ganglia, since it is involved
in how humans plan and execute different movements. Understanding the
interactions in it, will give a clearer view in the pathogenesis involved in
Parkinson’s disease, and hopefully develop better drugs to reduce its effects.

Jake Sutter (’19) and Hanson Hao (’19) conducted their research at Benedictine
University with Dr. Ellen Ziliak. Unlike, the other projects from IMSA that went to
the fair that were focused on biology, their research was based on applied math.
Their research was centered on matrices over a finite field, and how they are
used to create the notion of symmetry. They considered three perpendicular
vectors and the size of these vectors by using manual calculations and C++
programming. The set of these vectors is named SO(3,p) and it is seen in
concepts like rotation and spin in physics.

Louise Lima (’19) and Alice Liu (’19) conducted their research at Northwestern
Medicine Chicago Proton Center with Drs. Steven Laub and Aditya Panchal.
Their research lies between physics and medicine as they looked into proton
therapy, a type of radiation therapy, for cancer. The goals behind this research is
to develop more efficient methods behind treating cancer. They developed a
program that classifies different cancer treatment plans based on their similarity to Single-Field Uniform Dose, which is another type of proton treatment plan. This classification can better help how cancer is targeted between patients.

In addition, the students enjoyed the experience listening to other students’ research, and being able to meet international students. This opportunity was made possible by the SIR department and was fully paid through alumni

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