(From Fall 2014 Newsletter) During the Los Angeles event’s two days of judging, GoMRI award judges looked at 19 oil spill related projects without their students present, and then returned to interview 10 of the students in person.
The winner was Swapnav Deka of Plano East Senior High School, Plano, TX. His work was performed at a lab at the University of Texas, where he studied the oil-eating bacteria, Alcanivorax borkumensis, which is widely found in the Gulf of Mexico region. Swapnav used a series of tests to determine the previously unidentified hydrocarbon transporters in A. borkumensis which allow the transport of oil into the interior of the bacteria cells for breakdown. He also performed a rudimentary cost analysis of bio-engineering bacteria to become more effective at biodegrading oil by over-expressing these transporters. His research and presentation were quite impressive.
The competition for this year’s award was fierce, with a wide variety of oil spill related science projects to see from all over the world. There were quite a few projects on bioremediation by algae and bacteria, one project on the ideal size of dispersant droplets, and several others related to oil spill mitigation and clean up technology. It was a great event and choosing a winner was tough. Congratulations Swapnav!