King ASPIRE students recognized in STEM competition

"As part of the ASPIRE program, working with a real laboratory and helping conduct original research while I am still in high school is beyond my wildest dreams," says Billy Bernfeld '22. "To have my project selected for the CT-JSHS finals gives me a sense of real-world accomplishment. I am so grateful to Dr. Schulman and the STEM department at King School. The future of DNA as a nanomaterial is as extensive as the combinations it can produce, and the opportunity to work with it is now steering my thoughts towards a career in molecular biology," he added.

Billy is one of nine King students in the Advanced Science Program for Independent Research and Engineering (ASPIRE) who has passed the preliminary round and has been selected to present at the CT/Regional Junior Science & Humanities Symposium (JSHS). Billy, Wafa Nomani '21, and Joe Winterlich '21 have also qualified for the finals round and have the opportunity to advance to the National JSHS competition.

Last month, Joe Winterlich and Sammy Hillenmeyer '21 were named scholars in the prestigious, nationwide Regeneron Science Talent Search.  

Congratulations to all the King School JSHS award winners on being recognized for their outstanding achievement in this tri-service — US Army, Navy, and Air Force — sponsored competition that promotes original research and experimentation in the Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics at the high school level. 

Finalist in Oral PowerPoint Presenters category  

  • Billy Bernfeld '22:  "3D Nucleic Acid Crystals Can Be Assembled Using Synthetic Hachimoji Nucleotides in Tandem with Natural DNA Bases," Seeman Lab, New York University   

Finalist in Poster Presenters category

  • Wafa Nomani '21:  "Synergistic Effects of Feraheme® and Several ROS-Inducing Drugs to Treat Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma," Grimm Lab, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

  • Joe Winterlich '21:  "Antimicrobial Peptides and Antibiotics Produce Bactericidal and Bacteriostatic Effects on Wild-Type E. coli," Earth Lab, Weill Cornell Medicine   

Semi-finalists in Exhibition Poster Presenters category

  • Giovanna Armetta '22: "Mispositioned Myonuclei Likely Contribute to Muscle Fatigue in Muscle Disease," Baylies Lab, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

  • Sammy Hillenmeyer '21: "The Electrochemical Oxidation of Methane in a Fuel Cell Utilizing Carbon Sequestration," Hu Lab, Yale University

  • Nadia Kucher '21: "Deep Venous Intervention Surgeries for Lower Extremities in Out-Patient Offices Do Not Create Additional Complications Compared to Hospital Settings," Gagne Practice, The Vascular Experts 

  • Alex Lim '21: "Using an Automated Drone and Camera System to Improve the Safety of Schools and Other Populated Areas in a Cost-Effective Manner," Kaya Lab, Sacred Heart University

  • Adam Nomani '22: "Thermoelectric Heating and Cooling of an Electric Vehicle Using Phase Change Material," Gorthala Lab, University of New Haven

  • John Russell '22: "Clustering X-ray Absorption Spectra of Catalytic Materials for Energy Applications," Hu Lab, Yale University


Reflecting on her work over the past two years, Wafa Nomani shares, "I am grateful to both King for facilitating this opportunity for me and to my mentors, Liz Isaac and Jan Grimm, for not giving up on me, especially during this difficult time amidst a pandemic. Working on this project for almost two years now, with many flopped experiments and changing trajectories, I am happy that my hard work is starting to come together at this moment. I am honored that I was selected as a finalist for the JSHS. I am sure that, in future studies, we will optimize this treatment for pancreatic cancer – a truly devastating and terrible disease – and give hope to a person's life." 

Joe Winterlich adds, "I am humbled to have progressed to the competitive finals of JSHS, and I look forward to continuing the hard work in the next stage of the competition. I'd like to thank King, in particular Dr. Schulman, for providing me with the opportunity to enter the symposium and share my work."

Dr. Victoria Schulman, Director of Science Research, guides the ASPIRE students.  She notes, "The students fearlessly dove into challenging real-world projects. Using the critical thinking and presentation skills they learned in the Advanced STEM Research course, the students impressively mastered the equivalent of skills that first-year graduate students would attain. They are all truly hard-working, ambitious students and I am so excited to share this journey with them." 

This year's JSHS competition will occur virtually on February 28 for presentations and judging, and on March 6 for public exhibition, Q&A, and the awards ceremony. The National JSHS competition will be held virtually on April 14-17.

The King Fund supports STEM opportunities. The ASPIRE program is also supported, in partnership with the King Fund, by the Advanced Mathematics and Science Study Program (AMSSP) Endowed Fund. Established in 2018 by Margharet, Frank, Bea '15 and William '17 Nash, the AMSSP Fund supports select students with demonstrated ability and interest in achieving true excellence within science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics in global competition preparation, and/or laboratory research experiences. Your philanthropic investment in King School through the King Fund, Endowment, and Major Gifts supports these and other distinctive offerings for students at King.

Learn more about King Upper School and the STEM program.