In their experiment, they tested the effects of snake toxins on red blood cells from pigs, which would ordinarily be destroyed by the toxins. In the presence of the polymers, which acted as a synthetic anti-venom, the red blood cells were protected.
Both students expressed their enthusiasm for science and participation in cutting-edge research.
“I enjoy the logic of science and how things work in the universe,” Doreng-Stearns said. “Being on the frontier of human understanding is a pretty attractive thing. It is a valuable use of my time.”
Piszkiewicz, who began work on the project last December, said she appreciates the challenge that science offers.
“It’s exciting to discover what no one else has thought of,” she said. “Success did not come easily, but the journey made our accomplishments more rewarding.”
Of the 2,151 competitors engaged in 1,348 projects, 318 students were named semifinalists along with 96 students who were honored as regional finalists.
Ten projects will be showcased at the regional finals Nov. 20 and 21 at California Institute of Technology.
The duo will present a scientific poster and give a 12-minute presentation about their research.
Caltech scientists will also quiz them in a question-and-answer session. From the regional finals, one project will be selected to go on to the national competition in December in New York.
Principal Don Austin commended the students’ dedication and success.
“We are very proud of the accomplishments of Nicolai and Samantha,” he said. “With high-level guidance from Mr. Sogo, these two have conducted real research that may have paved the way for years of follow-up studies.
“Their work deserves all of the accolades that are coming their way. The community of Laguna Beach High School is very proud of the group!”