STEM connection

Area high school students participated in the 2020 Wisconsin-Upper Peninsula of Michigan Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS).

UWL faculty help high school students engage in original research at Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

Area high school teachers and students engaged in original research in the sciences, engineering or mathematics while interacting with UW-La Crosse faculty during the 2020 Wisconsin-Upper Peninsula of Michigan Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS). The event Jan. 25–26, at Treehaven in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, was also an opportunity for students to earn scholarship dollars. See this year’s award winners below.

“I’m always amazed by the creativity, persistence and hard work the high school students put into their projects,” says JSHS Regional Director Heidi Masters, UWL assistant professor of Educational Studies. “Their efforts will benefit them in life and their future careers.”

At JSHS, high school students present research, receive public recognition and awards, and interact with practicing research scientists. Many of those scientists are from UWL.

A group of UWL faculty members reviewed all of the student abstracts, provided feedback and served as the symposium judges. Those faculty members include: Jenni McCool, Mathematics & Statistics; Megan Litster, Biology; and Lisa Pitot, Educational Studies. Also, Basudeb Bhattacharyya, Biochemistry, mentored two of the students who received third and fourth place at the symposium.

Masters has been running the symposium for the past five years. She says the symposium is important way to connect high school students with STEM fields.

“We need more individuals in the STEM disciplines,” explains Masters. “It is a way to continue that effort and make students more aware of career opportunities they have in the STEM disciplines.”

The 2020 National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium will take place April 15–18, 2020 in Norfolk, Virginia.

Oral presentation winners at the 2020 Wisconsin-Upper Peninsula of Michigan Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS).

2020 Regional Award Winners

Twelve high school students gave oral presentations describing their original research projects. The top five award recipients received an all-expense paid trip to the 58th National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

  • 1st Place & Presidential Scholar Award, Neil Dogra, University School of Milwaukee: $2,000 and will compete for additional scholarships by presenting at the national symposium.
  • 2nd Place, Ahmad Abdel-Azim, Appleton North High School: $1,500 and will compete for additional scholarships by presenting at the national symposium.
  • 3rd Place, Eden Winga, La Crosse Central High School: $1,000 and eligible to present work in a poster session at the national symposium.
  • 4th Place, Vikram Ailiani, Onalaska High School: Eligible to present work in a poster session at the national symposium.
  • 5th Place, Aiden Cook, Cashton High School: Eligible to present work in a poster session at the national symposium.

Julie Lundeen of Cashton High School received the teacher award for her contribution to advancing student participation in research. Lundeen received a $500 cash award and an all-expense paid trip to the 2020 National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

Ten high school students presented poster projects. The top three poster presentations were as follows:

  • 1st Place – Jacob Curtis, Big Foot High School
  • 2nd Place – Kastyn Sherman, Big Foot High School
  • 3rd Place- Madeleine Barger, Verona High School


2020 National Awards

Research presented at the JSHS competition can align with any of the following categories: 1) environmental science; 2) life science; 3) medicine and health/behavioral; molecular/cellular; 4) engineering and technology; 5) math and computer science, computer engineering; 6) physics and astronomy, theoretical math; and 7) chemistry.

Each of the seven categories has its own winners: 1st Place: $12,000; 2nd Place: $8,000; 3rd Place: $4,000.

The U.S. Department of the Army has sponsored the national Junior Science and Humanities program since its inception in 1958, with the Department of the Navy and Air Force joining the program in 1995. This joint sponsorship and the cooperative efforts of universities throughout the nation has resulted in participation of 8,000 high school students and teachers at regional and national symposia annually.

Forty-eight regional symposiums are held throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and Department of Defense schools in Europe and the Pacific. The National Symposium brings together 230 high school students, their teachers, faculty, and scientists.

Learn more at www.uwlax.edu/ex/jshs.