Chandler student in national biotech contest

May 7, 2007

By hammersmith

[Source: Ray Parker, Arizona Republic] — A Chandler high school student spent the weekend in Boston at the Sanofi-Aventis International BioGENEius Challenge, where she presented her research into extracting hydrogen from crops and wastewater. “All we hear about is the war over oil, and rising gas prices, and I wanted to find a solution,” said Rachel Ginn, a 17-year-old Hamilton High junior. “There could be a car on the market in a few years, and we could have hydrogen fueling stations in Phoenix.”

At the annual competition, U.S. and Canadian high school students demonstrated their understanding of biotechnology through science projects. The first-place winner receives $7,500, second $5,000, third $2,500, and fourth $1,000. Other participants receive $500; all cash awards are shared equally between the school and the members of the winning team. Judges’ results will be announced today.

Ginn’s road to Boston involved three competitions.

  • Step 1: She described her research projects, which a panel of judges selected as one of two finalists from Arizona.
  • Step 2: As a state finalist, Ginn received $100 and competed in the regional event in San Francisco, where she presented her project to judges, who selected her as one of two finalists from the region.
  • Step 3: As a representative of the Southwest region – Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah – Ginn received a paid trip to compete at the challenge in Boston.

Ginn started her research three years ago as a freshman when she became interested in ethanol, a biofuel blended with gasoline, to reduce consumption of petroleum fuels and reduce air pollution. “I used clean water to make hydrogen last year and this year I used corn, sugar and sorghum (like a grass), and wastewater . . . using a fermentation process,” she said. “I’ve been working with ASU Professor Michael Salerno, who’s been acting as a mentor throughout this year’s project.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]