Ava Jaffe '23 and Amrit Menon '22 to Compete at Regeneron ISEF 2022

This May, Ava Jaffe '23 and Amrit Menon '22 will be traveling to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).  Ava and Amrit’s project, titled “Essential Protection: Using UV-sensitive yeast to evaluate essential oils as an alternative to sunscreen,” was awarded one of the thirteen spots on the Minnesota team during the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair, held at the end of February.  They will join approximately 15,000 students from around 70 countries to compete for prizes including scholarships, trips, tuition grants, and even cash prizes.

Ava and Amrit’s project represents the culmination of more than 550 combined hours of research over the past summer and fall.  Ava and Amrit were intrigued by claims that some essential oils might be effective alternatives to traditional sunscreen. The pair worked under the guidance of Ms. Sarah Sobas and Dr. Kati Kragtorp to learn techniques of culturing yeast, as an ethical alternative to testing on human skin. They designed and optimized a procedure in which they exposed yeast to the mid-day sun both with and without the protection of either sunscreen, carrot seed oil, or raspberry seed oil.  They found that, although carrot seed oil provided a small measure of protection against UV-rays, it was not nearly as effective as commercial sunscreen.

This was Amrit’s second year in Advanced Science Research at Breck, and will be his second ISEF competition. Ava is heading into her second year of ASR research and will be working at the University of Minnesota on therapeutic drug development.

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