A scientific approach to further educationRecent Cloquet High School graduate Kendra Pallin is just one of a highly talented group of CHS seniors who are about to make their mark in the world of higher academia, in large part thanks to their involvement in Science Fair.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
Cloquet High School senior Kendra Pallin felt like she had just won the lottery.
And, like lottery winners do, she remembers the date and what she was doing when she learned she had “won” her prize — a four-year education at the school of her dreams.
In her hands Pallin held a packet from Duke University — the school her older brother attends — and inside was information as to whether or not she had been accepted to the prestigious North Carolina school.
“My mom made me go to Duluth with her that day and I knew the envelope [from Duke] was coming,” Pallin said. “We got home at eight and I ran to the mailbox.”
Pallin, an accomplished researcher for a person of her tender years, was hoping to see that she had been accepted in what’s known as the “early decision” period (when a graduating senior is locked into a school of choice).
The envelope contained the news Pallin wanted to hear — like her brother Logan before her, she had been accepted — but the issue of how to pay for Duke University now dominated her thoughts.
“I knew I couldn’t go without a scholarship,” she said. But then she looked inside the envelope.
Also inside the package of goodies was a letter informing Pallin that she had been awarded the $200,000 “President’s Scholarship” to be used over four years.
Pallin then found herself in the unusual position of having to turn down Harvard, another of three universities to which she had applied, but now her real goal and passion could be realized.
That would be science. Pallin is just one of a highly talented group of CHS seniors who are about to make their mark in the world of higher academia, through their involvement in Science Fair.
Or other events, thanks to a vibrant, active group of advisers and a very talented group of students.
The project that got Pallin into Duke involved microbacteria.
“I was working in three different bogs,” she said. “I found three different types of mycobacteria and we identified a new species in a very harmful environment.”
Bogs can be hard on plants and trees and Pallin wanted to know how the new species she found could survive.
Sporulation was the answer. And now, by way of explanation, here’s some elite-level biology from Pallin.
”That’s the process of creating a casing around the cell itself,” she said, “and not allowing any of the outside conditions to destroy the cell.”
That’s impressive stuff, and it’s research related to that of one of her mentors, Dr. John Dahl of the University of Minnesota Duluth.
“Eventually I’d like to look at more genes,” she said. “If I can further identify my species, we can learn if they cause disease. The study of enzyme genomics could help us cure microbacterial tuberculosis, which kills two million people a year.”
Pallin hopes to continue her research at Duke but that depends in part on whether Dahl will allow it, since a portion of Pallin’s work built on Dahl’s.
“That will be his decision,” Pallin said.
Pallin will join her brother Logan, who is currently studying marine biology, environmental conservation and law at Duke’s satellite campus in Australia. He played a key role in helping his sister choose Duke.
“I went there with him during his first year of college and fell in love with the campus and the environment,” Pallin said. “Knowing his great experience, I knew I would have one, too.”
Pallin plans on majoring in biology and chemistry with minors in a global study or language, with the eventual goal of becoming a pediatric surgeon.
As great as that goal is, Pallin is only one of a group of talented seniors who took part in science fair, who also are moving on to bigger things.
Pallin, Cassandra Roy (UMD, biology), Abby Anderson (St. Catherine’s, nursing) and Angela Moynan (UW-Madison, science and engineering) were all part of a group that recently presented to the Cloquet School Board regarding their Science Fair projects. The seniors won numerous awards for their research during their high school careers and Pallin thanked her primary advisor for her success.
“We definitely have one of the greatest people I’ve met in Dr. Cynthia Welsh,” Pallin said of the middle school science teacher and Science Fair sponsor. “She’s so dedicated. I’ve been with her after school until two or three in the morning on science fair projects. She comes to the places we’re mentoring to meet our professors and helps us understand our projects.”
The result is a tuned-in group of students who help each other.
“We’re one big family and we grow off each other,” Pallin said. “Because we are so dedicated and give insights, and trade, we build on our research together. We pick out things our friends may have missed. I would definitely say that the five seniors who graduated are by far some of my best friends.”
Listing Welsh and her mentors on her list of important influences, Pallin also adds another: the third Pallin sibling, younger sister Madison.
“She inspires me, too,” Pallin said. “She’s gone to science fair, too, and I enjoy looking at her growth in her projects.”
And while not every science fair student will fly as far as Logan or Kendra Pallin, this much is for sure: looking at the list of accomplishments of these students can’t help but reflect well on the Cloquet School District.
Bonus story: Roy and Moynan are Stockholm Junior Waterprize Winners
Cassandra Roy and Angela Moynan both Cloquet High School seniors, submitted water related research papers that were selected by the Central States Water Environment Association’s Minnesota Chapter (CSWEA-MN) for the Minnesota 2012 State Stockholm Junior Waterprize' top award (www.cswea.org).
Moynan's paper was honored as the second best water related paper in the state, for her research titled The effect of the photodegradation of ibuprofen and dissolved organic matter (Lake Superior vs. St. Louis River Water) on a Lake Superior microbial isolate—phase VI. She was given special assistance from Elizabeth James, UMD LLO scientist and Dr. Elizabeth Minor, UMD LLO chemistry professor, as well as from Caitlin Sloan, UMD microbiology graduate student and Dr. Randal Hicks, UMD microbiology professor. Cassandra Roy’s research was also honored as the third best water related research paper in the state. Her paper is titled Mining Mystery: The effect of acid mining (sulfur compounds) on Bacillus mycoides taken from wild rice stalks. She was given special assistance from Michael Gillespie, science instructor at Fond du Lac Tribal College. Both Moynan and Roy were mentored by Cloquet science teacher, Dr. Cynthia Welsh.
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is the most prestigious national award for a water-related science project at the high school level. The prize taps into the unlimited potential of today's youth as they seek to address current and future water challenges. The competition is open to projects aimed at enhancing the quality of life through improvement of water quality, water resource management, or water and wastewater treatment http://www.wef.org/AboutWater/ForStudents/SJWP/.
Angela Moynan, a Cloquet senior, is not only an academic scholar that will graduate with honors, but has been activity involved in Upward Bound, Dance Line, National Honor Society, Destination Imagination and Track. Each of the last six years she attended the NE MN Regional Science Fair held at the University of MN Duluth, MN Academy of Science State Fair, Junior Science & Humanities Symposium, twice the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair, and this she year received a silver grand award (the top 10% of over 400 projects from 60 countries) at the International Sustainable Environmental Project World Olympiad (ISWEEEP). Moynan’s 2012 research paper was acknowledged for its scientific merit and published in the 2012 December issue of Zebrafish, a peer reviewed professional journal, you can find her research paper at http://tuesdays.etekweb.net/index.html. Moynan has been accepted into the University of Wisconsin Madison’s College of Science and Engineering where she plans to major in biochemical or civil engineering. For her academic efforts she was awarded the Rotary Scholarship, Kiwanis Scholarship, PEO Scholarship and the Braun Family Scholarship.
Roy, a senior at Cloquet, has been accepted, and plans to attend the University of Minnesota Duluth in the Fall, majoring in biology with hopes of studying forensic anthropology. Roy has also been very active in school, besides doing scientific research, during her high school years she participated in drama, Upward Bound and dance-line. During each of the six years doing science research, she attended the MN Academy of Science State Fair, Junior Science & Humanities Symposium (2013 top senior female research paper presentation), International Sustainable Environmental Project World Olympiad (received a bronze medal) and twice at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF). This year at Intel ISEF she was awarded a fourth place grand award, given to the top 20 percent of the projects presented at ISEF, where over 1700 students from 70 countries present their research projects.
These students had financial support for their projects from Cloquet Public Schools, the Cloquet Educational Foundation, and were funded in part by the Minnesota Power Foundation. With special assistance from Holly Pellerin, director of the Manoomin Project, funded through the National Science Foundation and the University of Minnesota’s Geoscience Alliance’s Diversity Director Diana Dalbotten and Emi Ito.