Manuscripts for 2021 Fall and 2022 Spring

Huntington’s Disease - A Breakthrough in Treatment using CRISPR/Cas9

Published in June 2022

Sanika Sharma

Irvington High School, CA USA

vol 2022(1) 104 - 108

Huntington’s disease is classified as a rare neurodegenerative disease that affects patients’ motor skills. The disease is passed on from generation to generation due to it being a dominant genetic disease. Some symptoms of Huntington’s disease include chorea and cognitive decline. Although there is no current cure, scientists believe that gene editing methods such as CRISPR/Cas9 could be a possible way to combat Huntington’s. A couple of methods scientists used to research treatments for Huntington’s, include using hiPSCs with CRISPR/Cas9 and personalizing the CRISPR/Cas9 treatment using specific PAM sites. These methods have not been tested clinically yet, and there is still more research to be done on whether this is entirely safe, however, there is still hope that this technique could become a cure in the future.

Screening P2P Loans Beyond Loan Grade:
An Application on Machine learning Algorithm XGBoost

Published in June 2022

Selina Sun

Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology, Alexandria, VA USA

vol 2022(1) 84 - 103

The credit risks of P2P loans fall onto the investors rather than the platforms, which provides a motivation for investors to screen loans beyond the suggestive loan grade provided by the platforms. This is made possible by P2P platforms sharing with the public the same information they use in screening. This paper studies whether screening models can be developed using machine learning algorithms to better screen P2P loans than loan grade. Based on the loans listed by one of the largest P2P platforms in the world, Lending Club, we find that machine learning algorithm XGBoost can improve default rank ordering by 10.3% in sample and 4.4% out of sample, as compared with loan grade. XGBoost also outperforms the conventional parametric Logistic regression model with a performance gain of 4.4% in sample and 1.1% out of sample.

The Effect of Retinal Scan Image Resolution on the Performance 
and Accuracy of Deep Learning Model

Published in May 2022

Saaketh Madabhushi

Mission San Jose High School, Fremont, CA USA

vol 2022(1) 86 - 93

Deep learning approaches have increasingly been used in the diagnosis of disease and other image recognition problems. Training a neural network requires a high amount of computational power. An assessment of the performance of neural networks on less than optimal image sets and hardware is desirable for these less developed nations. This research seeks to test the performance of neural networks under non-ideal conditions. Examples include fewer resources and training data for the neural network to utilize or outdated hardware. A dataset of images of diabetic retinopathy, with five different levels of severity, was procured. These images were split into four different test resolutions, none of which were the highest possible resolution images of the retinal scans available in the dataset, before being trained across three different neural network architectures: LeNet, AlexNet, and Encoder-Decoder. Images of diabetic retinopathy were utilized specifically as these are more complex images and would allow for the discovery of the limitations of deep learning across different resolutions. Furthermore, after conducting research, it was observed that AlexNet performed the best overall and achieved the highest accuracy of 57.2%. Encoder-Decoder was able to achieve 50.2% and LeNet was able to achieve 51.3%. In addition, the time until convergence for all three neural networks varied depending on the amount of layers and depth of each neural network, as well as the image resolution inputted. In general, neural networks trained with higher resolution images had higher accuracy, but still did not reach optimal performance.

The Meme Stock Phenomenon: Exploring the Correlations and
Growth Patterns of Seven Meme Stocks in 2021

Published in May 2022

Jordan Lee

Chadwick School, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA USA

vol 2022(1) 77 - 85

The meme stock phenomenon, which began in January of 2021, saw several different stocks of companies like GameStop, AMC, and BlackBerry surge in growth exponentially. Many of the questions that arose from this fascinating event have already been addressed, but there is one that has yet to be answered: To what extent did the growth of meme stocks correlate? Data from historical quotes of seven different meme stocks were used in order to perform a regression analysis, thereby providing the adequate resources to find the extent to which the growth of the seven meme stocks correlated. SPSS was used in order to perform the regression analysis, and significant figures that resulted from said analysis were noted. With such a new area of study, it is difficult to encapsulate all elements of the phenomenon, but using the available data, these findings show that the growth of meme stocks is indeed correlated, but there are some exceptions that are indeed notable.

Versatile PDMS Microfluidic Biosensing Platform for Rapid Detection of Viruses

Published in May 2022

Hersh Nanda

BASIS Chandler, Chandler, AZ USA

vol 2022(1) 72 - 76

This project entailed the fabrication of a versatile PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) microfluidic device to detect viruses and small molecules. Specifically, this device implements surface detection to detect virus secreted glycoproteins and small molecules using a gold biosensor which is integrated into a PDMS mold. The fabrication procedure for this device is innovative, as it significantly simplifies the traditional process of PDMS mold making, and it is versatile in that it can be adapted to fabricate different microfluidic devices that enable several other detection methods. The novel and simplified approach to PDMS mold fabrication developed as a part of this research resulted in 55% reduction in lead time and eliminated the need for a plasma cleaner, decreasing the cost of production by at least $6000. This device can theoretically be used to detect any virus provided that the virus secretes a glycoprotein, and there is a commercially available compound that can be applied to bond that glycoprotein to the gold biosensor. This lab-on-a-chip (LOC) device offers several benefits - versatility in detection of diverse analytes, small sample size requirement, increased efficiency (less time to fabricate the device and quickly scale production to large volumes), lower production cost, device portability in the field, and ease of use for healthcare professionals. 

Investigation of Vulnerability of Gwinnett County to Floods

Published in April 2022

Haelin Lee

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, Lawrenceville, GA USA

vol 2022(1) 66 - 71

This research paper studies flooding dangers in Gwinnett County to discover the most susceptible areas to significant flood damage. Three different flood year recurrence interval flood scenarios (i.e., 100 year, 200 year, 500 year) in Gwinnett County were analyzed using HAZUS, outlining the floodplains and calculated flood depths of each scenario. These three different year recurrence intervals resulted in different flood depths for each scenario. This study also investigates the vulnerability of essential facilities, such as electric power facilities and water treatment plants. The vulnerable essential facilities in Gwinnett County were found with geological information provided by HAZUS. This investigation can be used as an initiative to develop a more resilient and safer Gwinnett County by developing greater preparedness and creating more organized responses to flood events and natural disasters.

​​Breakthroughs in Honey Bee Health: Continuous-Release Mist Diffusion of
Thymol-Based Essential Oils

Published in April 2022

Kaitlyn N. Culbert

Toms River High School North, Toms River, NJ USA

vol 2022(1) 59 - 65

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) pollination is responsible for approximately 80% of all cultivated crops. Unfortunately, reports suggest losses of 30-50% of all bee colonies in the US. The greatest single contributor to the decline of bee health is the Varroa mite. Synthetic chemicals are currently used to control Varroa, but the mites are developing methods of resistance. Essential oils (EOs) may be a viable alternative. EOs are cheaper, environmentally-friendly, and pose fewer health risks to bees and consumers. Furthermore, Varroa have not yet developed resistance to EOs. EOs’ shortcoming is the limitation of exposure. Humidity and temperature affect the rate of evaporation and the mites’ exposure to the EOs. Thymol-based essential oils dispersed via a battery-operated mist diffuser would provide effective miticide efficacy without causing harm to honey bees due to the natural miticide properties of the EOs and the ability of the mist diffuser to maintain a constant temperature and humidity. Utilizing a gel capsule system to rear larvae/pupae/Varroa, thymol-based EOs were found to be effective against Varroa without harming bees. Miticide activity was as follows: thyme>oregano>rosemary>spearmint> control (vegetable glycerin). Currently, all commercially available thymol-centered systems are gel-based and work by direct contact with the mite. The use of mist diffusers effectively eliminates fluctuations in temperature and humidity and was more cost-effective than commercially available thymol-based systems (US$3.20 versus US$15-$18 per application). Continuous-release mist diffusion permits the disbursement of EOs throughout the entire hive, perhaps including the brood cell where natural miticides do not reach and where Varroa reproduction occurs.

​​The Neglected Equine Agency in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Published in March 2022

Yuheng Wang

Beijing No. 101 High School, Beijing, China

vol 2022(1) 55 - 58

This article explores Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from the posthumanist perspective of equine agency and argues that the narrator’s actions represent man’s belief in anthropocentric superiority. The horse, through his exquisite kinetic senses, perceives the impending danger that awaits in the freezing woods and advises the narrator to reverse course. The narrator, however, obtusely misinterprets the message, believing the horse to be incapable of comprehending aesthetics and promises, reaffirming human superiority over the equine species. Under closer scrutiny, however, this anthropocentric vanity crumbles. First, human beings, while privileged to observe the world through a keen sense of vision, are led astray in their professed ability to recognize beauty. For example, the narrator remarks on the beauty of the “dark, deep” woods, but in doing so his visual penetration is blocked and confined within a superficial level. Then the speaker’s lofty promises to travel miles before stopping to rest acquire an ironic touch. Instead of exploring an uncharted territory, the speaker embarks upon the same trips within a familiar region. Given his frequent travels on well-traveled paths, if the narrator still has a long way to go after evening, he has poorly planned his trip. Rather than acknowledging his blunder, however, the narrator boastfully promises, “And miles to go before I sleep,” and the repetition of the last line reveals his underlying anthropocentric vanity.

​​The Environmental and Economic Impacts of tan Invasive Species in South Florida

Published in March 2022

Yardena Rubin

NSU University School, Davie, FL USA

vol 2022(1) 48 - 54

For decades, invasive species have continued to enter our environment, causing multiple issues. In order to effectively prevent these effects from getting worse, a closer look needs to be taken at both the economic and environmental issues caused by invasive species. This paper aims to bring awareness to the public and to policymakers of the harmful impacts that invasive species have on our planet. With specific research on the chosen species of iguanas (Iguana iguana) in South Florida, this project highlights the damage iguanas are doing not only to the environment and economy, but also to the infrastructure. Recent research and experimentation have brought to light the issues that iguanas cause by eating away at the surrounding areas of foundations of different buildings, roads, and bridges, which causes them to become less structurally safe. There have been some advances in the right direction with newly proposed regarding infrastructure. However it is still a long way from directly targeting the problem. This review paper calls attention to these issues currently faced as the threat of these invasive species is expected to continue.

Using a Combination of Electroencephalographic and Acoustic Features
to Accurately Predict Emotional Responses to Music

Published in March 2022

Devon Krish

Los Gatos High School, Los Gatos, CA USA

vol 2022(1) 37 - 47

Music has the ability to evoke a wide variety of emotions in human listeners. Research has shown that treatment for depression and mental health disorders is significantly more effective when it is complemented by music therapy. However, because each human experiences music-induced emotions differently, there is no systematic way to accurately predict how people will respond to different types of music at an individual level. In this experiment, a model is created to predict humans’ emotional responses to music from both their electroencephalographic data (EEG) and the acoustic features of the music. By using recursive feature elimination (RFE) to extract the most relevant and performing features from the EEG and music, a regression model is fit and accurately correlates the patient’s actual music-induced emotional responses and model’s predicted responses. By reaching a mean correlation of r = 0.788, this model is significantly more accurate than previous works attempting to predict music-induced emotions. The results of this regression fit suggest that accurately predicting how people respond to music from brain activity is possible. Furthermore, by testing this model on specific features extracted from any musical clip, music that is most likely to evoke a happier and pleasant emotional state in an individual can be determined. This may allow music therapy practitioners, as well as music-listeners more broadly, to select music that will improve mood and mental health.

Chemical and Biological Approach using Mixed Oxidants
for the Disinfection of Drinking Water Supplies

Published in March 2022

Keilah Om

Dominican Academy NYC, New York, NY USA

vol 2022(1) 30 - 36

The use of mixed oxidants for disinfection as a public health measure reduces the spread of countless diseases and is the future of public safety. Mixed oxidant solutions, which have typically formed electrochemically through the electrolysis of brine, have emerged as an effective and potentially significant method of disinfection of drinking water supplies. Many solutions have been tested and documented regarding inactivation rates relating to mixed oxidant solutions, including chlorine, ozone, hypochlorite, and several others. Advanced technologies are interesting, however many are still in the research state, while conventional technologies are the most used and far along. However, although some of the conventional technologies are not fully verified, a vast majority of them are very significant and vital methods when it comes to disinfection. Some of the many benefits of mixed oxidant solutions include a decreased generation of potentially harmful disinfection byproducts (DBPs), inhibition of biofilm formation within distribution systems, improved residual power, safer operating environments, and lower operating costs. Disinfection byproducts (DBPs) are chemical, organic, and/or inorganic substances that are commonly found in drinking water supplies and can form during chemical reactions of a disinfectant and drinking water. The use of mixed oxidant solutions in public safety provides a safer working environment and a safer supply of drinking water, while also providing a cheaper and more effective solution to promote public health and safety.

Impact of Demographics on Shifts in the Electorate since 2000

Published in February 2022

Andrew Wang

Panther Creek High School, Cary, NC USA

vol 2022(1) 20 - 29

Political analysts have long studied demographic shifts and their relation to the electoral change in the United States. This study conducts a qualitative analysis of 19 case-study counties to determine the limitations and accuracy of using race and age as indicators of presidential election margin shift from 2000 to 2020. Post analysis, four types were created to explain the overarching shift themes: normal, urban, Rust Belt, and group status. The normal type followed initial assumptions on age and race, that older populations voted more Republican and more diverse populations voted more Democratic. The urban-type highlighted the larger magnitude of Democratic shift seen in diverse urban areas. The Rust Belt type characterized the majority-white and aging populations of the Rust Belt undergoing Republican shifts. Finally, the group status type showed the limitation of racial diversification being positive for Democratic candidates. The social psychology concept of group status is applied to show a backlash effect of diversifying counties, whereby counties undergoing significant racial shifts become more Republican.

Future Possibilities for the use of CRISPR on Mutations in Three Eye Disorders

Published in February 2022

Anika Ranjan

Novi High School, Novi, MI USA

vol 2022(1) 14 - 19

CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) technology is a useful tool to insert, delete, and substitute DNA in the genome. This is done by separating DNA via double-stranded breaks and can be performed through two different mechanisms: Homology-directed Repair (HDR) and Non-Homologous End Jointing (NHEJ). Double strand breaks would be used for a tracrRNA:crRNA to guide the enzyme cas9 to insert, delete, or substitute the desired DNA. CRISPR has limitations on which DNA sequences it can work with. Other concerns include ethical questions and base-pair limitations. X-linked Congenital Night Blindness, Snowflake Vitreoretinal Degeneration, and Cataract Microcornea syndrome are three genetic diseases caused by mutations in the genes CACNA1F, KCNJ13, and ABCA3 respectively. This research paper will discuss the possibilities of CRISPR and decipher specific substitutions for all three eye disorders.

Utilization of Thermoacoustics in Developing Energy-Efficient Cooling Technology

Published in February 2022

Andrew Kim, Caroline Sheffet

Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ USA

vol 2022(1) 7 - 13

The considerable amount of energy required to run modern-day air conditioning systems results in the emission of potent greenhouse gases, which poses various potential environmental and health risks. To provide a solution to the disadvantages of standard air conditioning, this paper observes the harmful effects standard air conditioning has on the global environment and describes the development of a possible solution, thermoacoustic technology, which would provide a cleaner method of cooling. It was determined that thermoacoustic cooling technology utilizes the motion of sound waves in a contained environment to allow for the transfer of heat within the device. This paper provides a thorough description of the design and development of thermoacoustic cooling technology, including an explanation of what would physically occur within the system as it operates by analyzing the sound waves and heat transfer; the materials needed to build the structure; and how the materials would be incorporated to create this environmentally clean technology.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Multifactorial Analysis of Genetics, 
Early Diagnosis and Treatment to Achieve the Optimal Outcome

Published in January 2022

Jayashree Balaraman

East Brunswick High School, East Brunswick, NJ USA

vol 2022(1) 1 - 6

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disease that impacts 1 in 54 children in the United States. Generally, the associated symptoms of ASD include social and communication impairment, intellectual disability, and repeated rigid movements. ASD encompasses many different characteristics and different standards of diagnosis. It is complicated because it is characterized as a spectrum disorder - it could range from very severe cases to mild cases of this disorder. Along with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ASD is ranked as the most common neurodevelopmental disorder. What complicates this disorder even further is that there are over 100 genes associated with ASD, although these genes differ for each patient. Moreover, because of genetic variability, there is a lack of standardized diagnosing protocol for ASD. The life-long symptoms of ASD makes those with this disorder suffer greatly because in most cases the symptoms do not get reduced and ASD patients do not “grow out of it”. However, there is a primary goal for those with ASD to have reduced symptoms or no symptoms at all which is known as optimal outcome - the ultimate goal for those with ASD. This phenomenon is directly linked to earlier intervention, because of the greater plasticity of the brain at a younger age, which is linked to diagnosis. There are two primary routes of diagnosis - quantitative and qualitative measures. The Social Response Scale (SRS) is a commonly used and validated quantitative test to diagnose ASD. The qualitative measure is from the perspective of a parent or a physician where they assess the symptoms associated with ASD - lack of communication skills, lower intellectual ability, and repeated rigid movements. Although the genetic component of ASD is very complex, finding a genetic mechanism would make early diagnosis easier and the subsequent initiation of early specific intervention could lead to optimal outcome for ASD patients.

Breaking the Spheres: The Effect of World War I on Traditional Gender Roles

Published in December 2021

Stephanie Lee

Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY USA

vol 2021(2) 120 - 124

World War I was the first occasion where the most powerful countries of the world turned against each other, leaving 20 million people dead. Millions of men were drafted into their countries’ armies and eventually sent to fight and kill all around the world. Stuck at home with empty positions left by men, millions of women began filling in those jobs, aiding the cause of war in any way that they could. That said, their roles drastically changed over the four years of the war, paving the path for changes that would slowly emerge following the end of the war. Men’s gender roles were reinforced during the war, as they fought vigorously and continued where they had left off before they were drafted. Women, however, temporarily fulfilled men’s vacant jobs only to return to their domestic work. Nevertheless, the end of the war was the beginning of landmark social changes that slowly opened the gates for women to become full participants in society.

Studies of Collective Behavior in Bounded and
Exterior Domains with Repulsion

Published in December 2021

Dmitriy Shvydkoy

Hinsdale Central High School, Hinsdale, IL USA

vol 2021(2) 114 - 119

In this note, we perform numerical studies of the Cucker-Smale system for a group of agents confined to a bounded domain or to its exterior. The purpose of this study is to test several hypotheses related to the long-time behavior of the system. Our most definitive observation suggests that in a convex bounded domain, the agents either settle away from the influence of the wall or congregate to a point circulating periodically near the boundary. In the exterior case, we observe a critical ratio between the radius of the flock and the radius of the obstacle that serves as a threshold between two distinctly different limiting behaviors - bouncing back from the obstacle or passing around it.

Synthetic and Natural Phytohormones: A Review and Analysis of
their Development, Functions, and Impacts

Published in November 2021

Shreya Anand et al.

Los Altos High School, Los Altos, CA USA

vol 2021(2) 105 - 113

Plant hormones are compounds synthesized naturally by plants, which regulate growth and development. In this paper, we survey recent developments in understanding the complex roles of eight small molecule plant hormone classes–abscisic acid (ABA), auxins, brassinosteroids, cytokinins, gibberellins, jasmonates, salicylic acid, and strigolactones–of which we primarily focus on cytokinins and auxins regarding their natural and synthetic versions. We then analyze the environmental and societal impacts of commercial usage of these hormones’ on an industrial scale. While plant hormones have potential in stimulating antioxidant production in certain plants and stem cell growth, excessive plant hormone usage in the agricultural sphere can have negative consequences which must be considered prior to application.

Diurnal Variations of Carcinogenic Soil Radon Emissions
and Various External Factors

Published in November 2021

Alin Aydar

Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle d’Ankara, Ankara, Turkey

vol 2021(2) 95 - 104

In this study, we made many radon measurements in an area where we know that carcinogenic soil radon is intense to investigate the daily radon emission changes and the external factors affecting these changes. In this study, we realized the measurements in three different points that are very close to each other (such as 13 m, 7 m). Lemon trees with shallow roots affected the radon emission values more than Oleander trees with relatively deep roots, while the third point, a tree-free point, measurements were intermediate of both. We believe that the roots of trees absorb and collect natural radon gases, and upon planting around the buildings, the trees may prevent radon leakages towards the basements.

New Jersey High School Students' Perceptions of
Full-time Online Learning

Published in October 2021

Benjamin Fu

Cherry Hill High School East, Cherry Hill, NJ USA

vol 2021(2) 83 - 94

The usage of online learning has dramatically increased since the start of Covid-19. Though the novel form of learning has seen sizeable economic growth and futuristic potential, it has received heavy critique from students worldwide. For these reasons, research on the viability of online learning is increasingly relevant. I analyzed New Jersey High School students’ perceptions of online learning in comparison to in-person learning. I utilized an online survey to obtain results. Ultimately, I discovered that students have adapted to online learning, and, consequently, student perceptions of online learning have been generally positive. I also researched the factors that impact student perceptions of online learning and student perceptions of the potential of online learning. Some positive attributes of online learning are its convenience and comfort, while negative features include its lack of interaction, worsened learning quality, technological issues, and lack of engagement. Despite these flaws, Students have generally shown that they believed in the future of online learning. Future research in this field should further analyze the factors that impact student perceptions of online learning so that educators, school boards, and programmers can foster a positive learning environment for online students. 

The South Asian Second Generation in the USA:
Representation on Identity

Published in October 2021

Tia Gandhi

Obra D. Tompkins High School, Katy, TX USA

vol 2021(2) 71 - 82

Cultural representation and preventing stereotyping are major areas of importance for modern American society. Immigration from the South Asian ethnic community has contributed to a higher regard for the accuracies in media and social representation of South Asian culture and people in the ethnic minority. While the definition of misrepresentation is subjective, common examples include the model minority, sexualization, Islamophobia, and cultural appropriation. A lack of proper representation has the potential to harm second generation adolescents who may participate both ethnic and popular culture. A qualitative survey gathered detailed information through open- ended responses, and multiple choice questions were qualitatively analyzed to find patterns within the sample and characterize them using the South Asian Identity Development Model (Ibrahim et al., 1997). The purpose of the results is to garner for improved representation and action against cultural stereotyping. The goal of the current study is to further research on ensuring adequate cultural representation to protect the psychological development of second generation South Asian American adolescents and other ethnic groups.

Fibonacci Numbers in the Number of Seeds and Carpels
of Rosaceae and Rutaceae Fruits

Published in September 2021

Anuja Magdum

Randolph High School, Randolph, NJ USA

vol 2021(2) 61 - 70

The Fibonacci Sequence is a sequence of numbers that has been observed greatly in nature. One aspect of the Fibonacci Sequence and nature that has been studied minimally is with fruits. Thus, the research question that guided this study is: what trends can be seen in the relationship between the numbers of the Fibonacci Sequence without any manipulation and numerical values including the number of seeds and the number of carpels present in Rutaceae and Rosaceae fruits? The goal of this study was to examine how much of a relationship there is between the Fibonacci numbers and fruits. The method of descriptive research was used to describe the naturally occurring phenomenon. The number of seeds and the number of carpels from 140 fruits were recorded; there were 7 types of fruits from each of the two fruit families and 10 pieces of each fruit. The data was then analyzed to find the percentage of numbers that were Fibonacci numbers. The major conclusion is that Fibonacci numbers tend to be more present in the number of seeds and carpels of Rosaceae fruits when compared to Rutaceae fruits.

Convolutional Neural Network for Predicting
Genetic Risks of Breast Cancer

Published in September 2021

Siva Bubby

BASIS Scottsdale, Scottsdale, AZ USA

vol 2021(2) 50 - 60

Breast cancer is a complex disease with a growing global prevalence whose genetic causes remain largely unexplored. The rise of next generation sequencing has significantly augmented genetic studies in identifying breast cancer-associated mutations, the most common of which are single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). While SNPs offer insights into the genetic causes of breast cancer, they do not explain its biological underpinnings nor do they provide a context within which to judge sequence-based interactions between SNPs linked to the disease. Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) demonstrate higher performance in hierarchical and abstract feature learning for image classification compared to other deep learning methods. This study proposes a deep learning model, named SPRiNGS, to classify a sample’s genetic breast cancer risk by analyzing the sequence contexts surrounding its SNP composition. Firstly, Monte Carlo simulations were implemented to generate a sample cohort and corresponding Polygenic Risk Scores (PRS). Secondly, each sample’s sequence composition matrix was resized to highlight significant semantic patterns across sequences. Thirdly, a two-dimensional CNN was constructed for feature learning and classification. This research demonstrated the validity of its simulated cohort. Additionally, SPRiNGS elucidates the improved performance of sequence-based predictions compared to SNP-based methods. The robustness of SPRiNGS was proved by experimental variations of the number of loci considered and the sequence fragment length.

Comparative Bioinformatics Analysis of SARS-CoV-2
and other Respiratory Viruses

Published in September 2021

Ananya Balaji

West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North, Plainsboro, NJ USA

vol 2021(2) 37 - 49

Viruses are sub-microscopic molecular parasites of cells that depend on and direct the host cell machinery to produce more copies of themselves. All viruses contain either DNA or RNA as their genetic material, which can potentially code for many proteins. The virosphere is very large and diverse, with almost 7000 unique species of viruses described to date. While the majority of these viruses are not disease causing and serve many important functions in the ecosystem, some viruses cause serious and debilitating diseases that have devastated human societies such as Ebola, Influenza, AIDS and SARS. Understanding the unique cell and molecular biology of these disease-causing viruses will aid in development of therapeutic strategies to target them. This study focuses on elucidating some unique features of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, which is the cause for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Genomic and proteomic comparative analysis between SARS-CoV-2 and other known respiratory viruses such as SARS-CoV-1, MERS and Rhinoviruses and the intestine infecting human Rotavirus have been performed to characterize and extract selected novel features of the SARS-CoV-2 genome. These results can contribute to the existing and rapidly expanding knowledge of the biology of SARS-CoV-2.

Projected Impact of COVID-19 on
the Reopening of Universities in Fall 2020

Published in August 2021

Abigail Mulry, Aditya Pillutla

Northern Guilford High School, NC USA || Enloe High School, NC USA

vol 2021(2) 14 - 36

The   concept   of   viruses   has   been   a   century-old   debate   among   scientists   due   to   their   peculiar   traits.   Some   viewed   the  virus   as nonliving,   initially   seen   as   a   poison   and   later   as   a   simple   protein   molecule.   Some   challenged   this   nonliving  nature   of   the   virus   due to its   infectivity   and   filterability.   The   reason   that   scientists   arrive   to   contrasted   perspectives   and   theories   in   viruses   derives   from   the fundamental   perception   of   what   constitutes   life.   While   some   scientists   may   overlook   such   a   quest   as   a   task   in   the   philosophical scope, it   is   through   philosophical   lens   that   empirical   scientific  data   have   been   processed,   resulting   in   various   theories.   Upon   examining the concept   of   the   virus   of   André   Lwoff,  Patrick   Forterre,   and   Luis   Villarreal   based   upon   their   views   of   life,   it   is   concluded   that their respective   understanding  of   viruses   is   not   a   direct   reflection   of   the   scientific   data   of   the   living   traits   (system,   matter,   chemical metabolism,   complexity,   reproduction,   and   evolution),   but   also   reflects   their   employment   of   the   philosophical   lens   and   the  perceptual principles.   Thus,   the   approach   to   the   study   of   biology   requires   philosophical   process   in   perceptualizing  life.  

Living or Nonliving? Reconsider Biology through the Concepts of Viruses

Published in July 2021

Thomas Lee

Chino Hills High School, CA USA

vol 2021(2) 7 - 13

The   concept   of   viruses   has   been   a   century-old   debate   among   scientists   due   to   their   peculiar   traits.   Some   viewed   the  virus   as   nonliving,   initially   seen   as   a   poison   and   later   as   a   simple   protein   molecule.   Some   challenged   this   nonliving  nature   of   the   virus   due   to   its   infectivity   and   filterability.   The   reason   that   scientists   arrive   to   contrasted   perspectives   and   theories   in   viruses   derives   from   the   fundamental   perception   of   what   constitutes   life.   While   some   scientists   may   overlook   such   a   quest   as   a   task   in   the   philosophical   scope,   it   is   through   philosophical   lens   that   empirical   scientific  data   have   been   processed,   resulting   in   various   theories.   Upon   examining   the   concept   of   the   virus   of   André   Lwoff,  Patrick   Forterre,   and   Luis   Villarreal   based   upon   their   views   of   life,   it   is   concluded   that   their   respective   understanding  of   viruses   is   not   a   direct   reflection   of   the   scientific   data   of   the   living   traits   (system,   matter,   chemical   metabolism,   complexity,   reproduction,   and   evolution),   but   also   reflects   their   employment   of   the   philosophical   lens   and   the  perceptual   principles.   Thus,   the   approach   to   the   study   of   biology   requires   philosophical   process   in   perceptualizing  life.  

Selected Mathematical Models in Hot Air Drying of Foods

Published in July 2021

Ömer Burak Çınar

Private Uğur High School, Kahramanmaraş, Turkey

vol 2021(2) 1 - 6

Food processing and preservation are major areas of interest for the food industry. Agricultural products having high amounts of water are highly perishable. Therefore, preservation methods are used to extend their shelf-lives. Drying is one of the oldest food preservation techniques. Among wide range of drying methods, hot air drying is one of the most frequently used drying methods for foods contain high amounts of water. Mathematical models for thin layer drying are useful in explaining heat and mass transfer mechanism and drying rate as well as predicting effective diffusion coefficient and activation energy of the drying process. The aim of the present study is to give fundamental information on both heat and mass transfer mechanisms in hot air drying of foods and selected mathematical models by deriving equations for predicting drying kinetics. It is expected that the present study provides basic background knowledge on hot air drying studies for the researchers.