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Seniors in Packer’s Independent Science Research Program Honored at Prestigious National Science Symposium

This spring, Packer’s very own Lydia Evans ’24 won first place in the Environmental Science category at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) in New Mexico. Lydia and Devon Super ’24 were two of only five finalists selected to represent the entire NYC metro region at the prestigious national competition that promotes original research and experimentation in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at the high school level. 

The competition in New Mexico was the culmination of two rounds of semifinals, during which four young scientists from Packer’s Independent Science Research Program (ISR) competed. In the 3-year ISR program, students have the unique opportunity to design and conduct a long-term project under the guidance of mentor-professors in college and university research labs across the city.

At the Nationals, Lydia presented a poster of her research on air quality, specifically the effects of gas stoves in homes and commercial kitchens in New York City and how they relate to increased childhood asthma. She conducted her research as part of her mentorship at the Department of Chemical Engineering Lab at The Cooper Union. 

“I was able to network with a lot of Packer parents to gain access to buildings,” in order to collect data for the project, Lydia shared. “From there, I measured the ambient air emissions from stovetops and ovens [of both commercial and residential buildings] and compared the results. The interesting thing [I found] was that commercial kitchens have extensive ventilation requirements while residential buildings have none. So, ventilation could be a possible solution.” 

Lydia expressed surprise and humility about her first place win. Recalling the moment, she said “I was just looking at the projects around me and they were so interesting. I thought, There is no way I placed. I just have an air quality survey. Then they called my name and I wondered if there was another Lydia Evans. When I saw [my teacher] Ms. Machac stand up, I realized Oh, it's me!

Also chosen to present at the Nationals was Devon, who competed in the Engineering and Technology category. Devon, who conducted his ISR project at the Agile Robotics and Perception Lab at New York University, delivered a 12-minute presentation about his work programming and deploying a robotics framework on drones. “We heard a lot from a lot of different people in different areas of expertise, which is interesting,” he said. “It was cool to be in a space where everybody was so engaged in their work… The thing I noticed the most was how quickly people there picked up on [all of the research being presented].”

Congratulations to Devon, Lydia, and the entire Independent Science Research Program team for their outstanding work!

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