Oak Ridge High School Students Anhaar Ajaz, Eric Armstrong, Justin Blanchard, Andrew Brady, Jake Cheney, Melody Guo, Jessica Jacyno, Jina Jiang, Edward Moran, Ashlyn Riikola, Logan Roeling, Veda Seay, Peter Wildgruber and George Wang all competed at the 69th Southern Appalachian Science and Engineering Fair (SASEF) hosted by the University of Tennessee.  SASEF was held virtually this year on March 31st, and awards were announced on April 8th. All of the ORHS research projects were recognized in their category.

Collectively, the students and teachers were awarded over $5,000 in prizes and special awards from the generous sponsors of SASEF.

Eric Armstrong’s project titled The Effect of Pseudomonas, Piriformispora indica and Laccaria bicolor on the Growth of Gossypium hirsutum was awarded the top prize in the Senior division.  He worked under the mentorship of Dan McDonald at Phenotype Screening Corp. This study was designed to evaluate the impact of three different endophytic microbial species on the growth of Gossypium hirstum, cotton.

Veda Seay and Andrew Brady’s project titled NRDAA: A Machine Learning Algorithm for Fitting Neutron Reflectometry Data was awarded second place. They worked under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Archibald at ORNL to build a tool that uses machine learning to analyze neutron reflectometry data to help scientists gain insights into thin films, which have important applications in lithium ion batteries, solar cells, polymers, and biological membranes. Speaking about her experience, Veda said, “Having the opportunity to work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and compete at SASEF was an unforgettable opportunity, and I am extremely grateful for my mentors and teachers who made this experience possible for me.”

Oak Ridge High School Thesis teachers Deanna Pickel and Jessica Williams as well as AP Research teacher Sharon Thomas have been working with these students during the course of the school year to support their research. A list of all of the awards can be found at https://sasef.utk.edu/2020/04/08/2020-award-winners/.

National Awards

American Meteorological Society: Edward Moran & Logan Roeling/ Jina Jiang

American Psychological Association: Ashlyn Riikola

Mu Alpha Theta: Melody Guo

NASA Earth Systems Science Award: Edward Moran & Logan Roeling

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA: Edward Moran & Logan Roeling/

USAID Science Champion Award : Jina Jiang

US Air Force: Jacob Cheney, Melody Guo

US Stockholm Junior Water Prize : Melody & Bear & Logan

Local Special Awards

American Chemical Society ($50): Jessica Jacyno

American Institute of Chemical Engineers ($75): Jessica Jacyno

American Meteorological Society – Smoky Mountain Chapter ($100): Jina Jiang/ Edward Moran and Logan Roeling

Biology Teacher Award: Eric Armstrong

Oak Ridge National Lab Excellence in Computing ($500): Veda Seay & Andrew Brady

Strata-G ($250): Edward Moran & Logan Roeling


Senior Division Honorable Mention Awards

Peter Wildgruber, Ashlyn Riikola, Jessica Jacyno, George Wang & Anhaar Ajaz, Jina Jiang, Melody Guo, Jacob Cheney, Justin Blanchard


Senior Division Certificate of Excellence Awards

Veda Seay & Andrew Brady, Edward Moran & Logan Roeling, Eric Armstrong


Senior Division Award Winners

Senior Grand Champion ($500 teacher/$1500): Eric Armstrong

Senior Reserve Champion ($500 teacher/$750 each): Veda Seay & Andrew Brady

3rd Place ($250 each): Edward Moran & Logan Roeling


Total Winnings:  $5575


Press release submitted by Deanna Pickel