I am a junior in Pelham Memorial High School (PMHS) in Westchester County, NY. Prior to transferring to PMHS (in Fall of 2016), I completed my freshman and sophomore years in Ottawa Hills High School (OHHS) in Toledo, OH. All through my high school, in addition to striving for high academic achievement, I tried to stay as a well-rounded student: I am a varsity-level field hockey player, I participate in theatre, chorus and band, and I am also a member of the French and Human rights clubs. I was a member of the OHHS Choraliers group that performed at Carnegie Hall in New York during February 2016. I was selected to be a member of National Junior Honor Society and recently inducted into National Honor Society.
During the summer of 2016, I did a twelve-week internship in professor Sridhar Viamajala’s laboratory at The University of Toledo, OH, and studied “micro-algae cultivation and processing”. During this period, I was exposed to and intrigued by the unique traits of extremophiles, and chose to focus on alkaliphilic algae (isolated from Soap Lake, WA). Specifically, I explored “auto-fermentation of alkaliphilic micro-algae under dark anaerobic conditions for producing organic-acids”; these organic acids are precursors useful for synthesizing bio-fuels and materials.
During the discussion that took place while I was working with Dr. Viamajala’s research team, we always wondered: “how is the Soap Lake algae able to thrive and grow in a robust manner under harsh open-pond cultivation conditions, without being taken over by other competing microbes?” It is speculated that the algae might be secreting some bioactive compounds that would suppress the growth of predators. Through this proposed project, I would like to verify this hypothesis.