Phoenix, AZ  – The North Carolina Science Fair Foundation (NCSFF), proudly announces student special and grand award winners of the 2019 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held in Phoenix, AZ from May 12 -17, 2019, the world’s largest international pre-college science competition.

Competing against 1,800 students from 83 countries for more than four million in awards and scholarships, seven North Carolina high school student researchers earned top honors. North Carolina students won a total of $3,500 in addition to an all expense paid trip to compete, thanks to the generous support of NCSEF Presenting sponsor Biogen and the many other business and foundation supporters.

Three students won special awards for their exemplary science research.

  • Uma Loh Volety of Hoggard High School in Wilmington (Region 2) and Elizabeth Grace Kinsey of NC School of Science and Mathematics in Durham (Region 3B) earned a second place award of $500 from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for their Earth and environmental science research entitled The Bioaccumulation, Toxicity, and Electrical Discharge Plasma-Treatment of the Emerging Perfluorinated Contaminant, GenX.
  • Kaitlyn Lee Zuravel of Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville (Region 4) earned a first place award of $1,000 from the National Security Agency Research (NSA) Directorate for her physics research entitled Glue Busters II: The Effects of Accelerated Cure Time on the Ultimate Shear Strength and Efficiency of CA and PVA Glue

Four NC students earned prestigious Grand Award fourth place awards of $500.

  • In the Biomedical Engineering category, Jason Li from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, NC research (Region 3B) is entitled A Novel Multimodal Wearable Sensor System for Continuous Monitoring of Chronic Diseases.
  • In the Chemistry of category, Aakriti Lakshmanan, Ardrey Kell High School, NC (Region 6) research title was Synthesis of Silver Compounds with Potential Anti-Cancer Activity: Silver(I) Complexes with Xylyl-Substituted Heterocyclic Thiones and Selones.
  • In the Material Science category, Ana Ratanaphruks from Wake STEM Early College High School, NC (Region 3A) research is entitled Get a Grip: Creating Soft Robotic Grippers via Self-folding by Infrared Activation.
  • Ishaan Maitra from the  North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, NC (Region 3B) research was entitled Battling Blindness in Premature Babies: An Image Processing and Machine Learning Based Application for Early Detection and Prevention of Retinopathy of Prematurity.

NCSFF Executive Director, Dr. Leah Bug, stated, “North Carolina has added twenty-four alumni to the prestigious Intel Science and Engineering Fair.  Alumni have gone on to receive some of the world’s most esteemed academic honors, including the Nobel Prize. Our North Carolina students represent some of the top young scientific and engineering minds and we are so proud of their hard work.”

From teacher to NASA to NC Science Fair Foundation exec director – the trek of Leah Bug

NCSEF Director Judy Day said, “Our local and regional teachers and fair directors from surrounding North Carolina counties continue to raise the standards for student research in all STEM areas. Our student researchers were well prepared and represented North Carolina North Carolina with pride.”

The NC Science Fair Foundation sponsors the NCSEF and its 9 Regional Competitions held in North Carolina. NCSFF is a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit, volunteer-driven organization, whose mission is to increase inquiry-based student research in STEM-related areas of study in Grades 3-12 by “Inspiring Innovation in Student Research”.  NCSEF is the state affiliate to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF)

For more information about being a judge, volunteer, or sponsorship, please contact Dr. Leah Bug, Executive Director, at or visit the NCSEF website at

(C) North Carolina Science Fair Foundation