Archive for Thursday, September 11, 2008

EHS student does research at KU lab

September 11, 2008

When the subject of rain during Thursday afternoon's cross country meet is brought up, Eudora High School senior JoAnna Male wasted no time in dismissing questions about having to run in less than pleasant conditions.

"You've got to run anyway, so you might as well make it interesting," Male said.

The statement is a microcosm of Male's academic career to date.

She began taking high school math classes in eighth grade and exhausted her options for math classes at EHS after her junior year.

And last summer, she began research in the chemical engineering department at Kansas University. She is building on the research of a grad student by using computer simulations to discover manners in which the shelf life and stability of pharmaceuticals could be improved.

"Not only is she very bright, but she is very motivated to learn," Pam Davis, Male's gifted teacher at EHS said. "She's really driven to do more learning than she would have to do. She's a really special kid and a lot of fun to work with."

Her work at KU during the summer did not earn her any grades, but Male was motivated to win scholarships from science and technology companies Siemens and Intel.

"Both of them offer a $100,000 grand prize, so that's enough motivation," Male said.

Davis told Male last year about the Intel Science Talent Search.

She needed a mentor to do research for the scholarship, so Davis was able to connect Male with Kyle Camarda, associate professor in the chemical and petroleum engineering department at KU.

"JoAnna is doing quite well, and we have enjoyed having her in the lab," Camarda said. "She was quite busy over the summer and continues to have many activities going on, but when she can get into the lab, she has interacted well with the undergraduate and graduate researchers there."

Indeed, Male was involved in several activities during the summer, including 4-H and a trip to Ireland with Adventure Scouts of Lawrence. But Male still spent between 10 and

20 hours doing research in the lab each week.

"I had to spread my summer pretty thin because I had a lot of activities going on," Male said. "There were a lot of events, but I found time for the lab, and for a social life and for work. I had a summer, it was just a little busier than usual."

Though her research was sometimes tedious, there also were days when Male felt that she was making some headway and kept in mind the fact that her research possibly could decrease the amount of money consumers have to spend on drugs.

Male's research is ongoing and she soon will have to submit her findings to Intel. However, the project is so dense that she will be able to revisit it.

Camarda said he's been impressed with Male's ability to comprehend such complex material and would like to see her attend KU as a undergraduate or graduate student.

Male is not sure whether or not that is in her future, as she has her sights set on universities a bit further away from Eudora. She is looking into attending Kansas State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University or Stanford University.

"KU is a good school, but it's too close to home," she said. "Plus, I'm a Wildcat at heart."

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