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Students Win at DOE SERCh Competition


Jessica Kubicek and Jesse Resnick, two undergraduate summer students from the Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy group (C-PCS), were winners in DOE's recent Science and Energy Research Challenge (SERCh) poster competition. Kubicek won 2nd place in Biology and Resnick 3rd place in Chemistry. The competition was held November 8-10, 2008, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The winners were honored with trophies in addition to the cash prizes. Jesse Resnick is standing, far right. Jessica Kubicek is standing, 4th from the right. Pawan Rastogi, recently of Chemistry now with MPA Division, took first place in the Chemistry category. Rastogi stands second from the left.

According to one judge, Kubicek did an excellent job in both the poster preparation and oral presentation, and Resnick excelled as well. LANL-affiliated students won 7 of the 15 winner positions in this highly competitive event. In all, 85 posters were selected for judging from the 200 submitted, and participants came from across the entire DOE/NNSA complex. There were five science areas presented, and three posters received awards in each area. The categories were Biology, Chemistry, Materials Science, Environmental Science, and Physics. Prize money was $1,000 for 3rd place, $1,500 for 2nd, and $2,000 for first. Grand prize was $10,000.

This program is sponsored by the Department of Energy Office of Science, which covers all travel expenses for both the student presenter and the mentor. This is the first DOE sponsored activity of its kind. The intent is to hold it yearly and rotate among the labs.

Both Kubicek and Resnick worked this past summer in C-PCS with the LANL Biosensor team (Basil Swanson, Team Leader). Kubicek's poster was titled “Detection of Antigen-85, a Biomarker for Tuberculosis, using a Waveguide-Based Optical Biosensor.” She worked with Harshini Mukundan (mentor) toward the development of a sandwich immunoassay for the detection of Antigen 85, a tuberculosis marker present in urine samples of patients afflicted with the disease. Resnick's poster was “Expedited Preparation of Polyethylene Glycol-Terminated Thin Films. ” He worked with mentor Aaron Anderson on the synthesis, characterization, and application of novel organosilanes for detection applications.

According to their mentors, both students worked very hard to prepare their presentations for this competition. They had both acquired additional data after their 2008 student symposium poster presentations and added those results to their posters before submission to this DOE competition. Kubicek plans to work as a post-baccalaureate student at the lab after her graduation from the University of New Mexico this fall, and Resnick will work with the biosensor team again in the summer of 2009.

For more on the SERCh program visit DOE's web site.

Jessica Kubicek receives her winning check from the SERCh officials

Jesse Resnick receives his winning check from the SERCh officials.


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