Four Westerville Central High School Students Earn Ohio STEM Honors Diplomas


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Four Westerville Central students participated in an authentic STEM program and earned their Ohio STEM Honors diploma in the process.  Abigail Nuro, Jack Riccobono, Alexandria Kreuser and Shayla Ta enrolled in OSU’s academy classes and participated in the STEM Bodies program offered at the PAST Foundation this year.  The students completed 15 different medical rotations and internship seminars through several OSU schools such as veterinary, ophthalmology, pharmacy, and the James Cancer Institute.  In addition, each pupil participated in a 12-week long internship where they applied their classroom knowledge and skills in a professional setting.  The students developed skills such as being an active and responsible decision maker, effective communicator, and being an engaged and hands-on learner.  After completing their research, they created a portfolio demonstrating their extensive knowledge and critical thinking skills.  In addition, each student led a poster presentation, which was reviewed and validated by external experts in their field of interest.  

Abigail Nuro collaborated with Nationwide Children’s Hospital on their Whack-a-Mole Board:  A Therapeutic Device for Cerebral Palsy.  Her research helped establish a control group in which 30 female and 30 male individuals participated in the study.  This study helped recognize some limitations of the Whack-a-Mole board and its therapeutic use for cerebral palsy patients but remains hopeful for individuals who have Duchene Muscular Dystrophy.  Nuro recognized how the health pathway courses taught at Westerville Central High School helped prepare her for her research project.  She plans to attend Miami University in the fall and will major in Medical Laboratory Science.

Jack Riccobono commented during his final presentation, “Collecting data doesn’t always happen when you want or need it to.  Some of the data I needed was collected as recently as yesterday.  What can I say, you can’t force science.”  Riccobono conducted his research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital where he studied S Typhi Persister Cell Isolator and Links to Host Immunity.  Part of his research involved looking at how S Typhi responds to both antibiotic and bile levels in the hopes of discovering how to address these biofilms in the body.  Riccobono plans to pursue a degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences at the University of Cincinnati.

Alexandria Kreuser collaborated with Nanofiber Solutions and worked on generating and creating a nanofiber bridged blood vessel.  These types of vessels are often needed in neonatal heart patients in which the blood vessels traditionally would be operated upon birth and require several additional operations.  The hope is the nanofiber blood vessels could be inserted into patients in far less time, with fewer complications and create a scaffold of cells that form the vessel for significantly more time.  Kreuser enjoyed her experience at Nanofiber Solutions and is looking forward to majoring at OSU in biology and neuroscience.  She recognized how cutting edge this nanofiber research is and how it could apply to neuron generation as well.

Shayla Ta participated in the Structural Analysis of Red Beta Protein Utilizing Recombineering at The Ohio State University’s Department of Chemistry and Pharmacology.  She utilized multiple advanced lab techniques to introduce a mechanism that would repair a damaged part of a cell via cell transformation and electroporation.   Ta looks forward to continuing her research in Dr. Bell’s lab this summer and hopes to continue her studies while attending OSU in the fall.  

For more information about STEM Honors Diploma requirements please look at the Ohio Department of Education’s website at:  http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Ohio-s-Graduation-Requirements/Honors-Diplomas/STEM-Honors-Diploma.