Two juniors at Lorain County Early College High School will begin this school year with an award under their belts for a presentation at a university science conference.
Jacob Haller, 16 from Elyria, and Brandon Holcomb, 17 from Lorain, received Honorable Mention recognition for their poster presentation at the 59th annual SAS/ACS/MSNO May Conference held at John Carroll University. The students presented a poster on their research as part of the Early Scientist program at Lorain County Community College, facilitated by microbiology professor Harry Kestler. The research centers on a gene therapy that could cure the disease caused by HIV.
Lorain County Community College and the Early Scientists’ presentation marked the first time that a community college has participated in the May Conference. Prior to the conference, Haller and Holcomb submitted an abstract to the Cleveland Section of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy with the goal of presenting a poster. The poster was accepted for presentation, alongside the work of predominately graduate students at the university level.
Presenting among graduate students was “a little daunting” at first, according to Holcomb, but their pair quickly gained footing.
“It was intimidating, but we did our best and presented our information and answered any questions that people had,” Holcomb said.
Their hard work paid off and their poster won Honorable Mention.
Holcomb admits, “We didn’t expect to win anything, so it was really exciting to find out that we received honorable mention.”
Lorain County Early College High School is a unique high school experience that allows qualified high school students to enroll in college courses for free on the campus of Lorain County Community College. Early College students who meet certain criteria are invited to join the Early Scientist program. “The goal of the science program is to expose high school students and community college students to research opportunities normally only available to graduate students at the university level institutions” Kestler explained.
Haller and Holcomb said it is due to their participation in Early College High School that they are now considering degrees and careers in science.
“I feel like being in Early College has given me a lot of opportunities that I wouldn’t have had going into a regular high school,” Haller enthuses. “I’ve been given the privilege to work with Dr. Kestler in the lab and that’s a very unique and rewarding experience.”
In addition to Haller and Holcomb’s poster, another LCCC group presented their research at the May Conference. Aubrie Thompson and Chris Kazee presented their studies analyzing compounds found in bourbon made by a local whiskey company. The students who participated in the conference are just four of the more than 50 LCCC students doing research projects in the division of science and mathematics.
For more information about Lorain County Early College High School, visit www.lorainccc.edu/earlycollege.
For more information about science and mathematics at LCCC, visit www.lorainccc.edu/science.