By Starr D’Avril

What started out as class work, has become a research project worthy of  competing for notoriety among the Ivy League academia.  The group pictured above, plus Eric McCalister from Bowling Green University Partnership, will be traveling to Vancouver for the American Association for the Advancement of Science Fair Feb. 16 – 18.  

Left to right: Professor Harry Kestler oversees his research group, Alex Fulton, Conner Anderson, Victoria Soewarna the principal investigator, and Megan Sheldon transcribing the data. The group is running tests for their project on samples extracted from students, looking for the CCR5 proteins. Mike McFarland | The Collegian

They will present their two-year project on the ‘deletion mutation’ gene, Delta 32 on the CCR5 protein, in story board form with PowerPoint graphs, pictures and summaries of their work.

“Delta 32 makes a person less susceptible to contracting HIV ,” said Megan Sheldon, “That’s why our work is so cutting edge.”

“This started out as research,” added Victoria Soewarna, “then we found out about the science fairs and submitted our project and were accepted.  We  are entered in three other fairs for later in the year.”

The group earned more than $450  during Welcome Week then went before the Board of Trustees Jan. 19 and received the rest of the money needed for all of them to go to Vancouver.

The results of the competition won’t be out until the first of April, but the prize is worth the wait.  “To have the kids have their work published, earn scholarships for themselves and grants for more research is quite the accomplishment,” said Kestler, “But the best part of the prize  is the bragging rights, the fact they could be remembered like Salk and Sabin (polio vaccine) for their discoveries.  They have a chance at their own immortality.”