(Secaucus, NJ––May 3, 2021) Sophia Benavente-Sayani, a junior in High Tech’s Academy for Design & Fabrication (D|Fab), was awarded a gold medal for her research project at the 2022 Jersey City Medical Center/RWJ Barnabas Health STEM Showcase held at Liberty Science Center in early April, announced Ms. Kathy Young, Principal of High Tech High School.
Sophia took home the gold for her research project titled “Inhibition of Nosocomial Pathogens By The Bioavailability of Extracted Botanical Wide Spectrum Antibiotics.” Here, Sophia asked the question: “Can one find the optimal botanical extract from a tropical plant to work as a broad spectrum antibiotic without the side effects of chemical pharmaceutics in a way that lowers the number of bacteria to inhibit it?” Her findings led to the gold medal award, which carries special significance this year: not only has she previously taken home the bronze and silver medals at prior Hudson County STEM showcases, but the gold medal includes a full Presidential Scholarship to attend New Jersey City University when she graduates HTHS.
This is just the latest accolade for Sophia, who has also been selected as one of just twenty-four Engineer Girl Ambassadors to represent the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, DC, this spring. Additionally, Sophia has been invited to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Convention in Irving, CA, where she will have the opportunity to meet and speak with NAE and SpaceX engineers about the work I’ve done after over a year of training. This includes designing and implementing a weekly STEM program for chronically underrepresented youth in Secaucus. Finally, this May will also see Sophia graduate as one of a mere ninety-five New Jersey Governor’s STEM Scholars—a rigorous, year-long program which allows participants to gain research skills through the state's numerous public and private STEM industries.