The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Alameda County Science Engineering Fair Winners

By: Staff Writer Genevieve Huang

ACSEF Winners Copy

On March 23, the 3rd annual Alameda County Science Engineering Fair (ACSEF) recognized 43 MSJ students for their research projects that tackled problems from all different areas of science, everything from Animal Science to Engineering and Botany to Physical Sciences.  Awardees were recognized with Category Place Awards (first, second, third, and honorable mention) and Special Awards from organizations with their own specific criteria. Additionally, the most distinguished projects were awarded the Grand Prize Award, an acknowledgement given to four projects that includes an all-expenses paid trip to International Science & Engineering Fair from May 11–16. MSJ Senior Raghu Dhara and Junior Vaishnavi Shrivastava took half of these awards, and Senior Jonathan Lu took the title Grand Prize Runner Up. He will be competing at the California Science Fair on April 28-29. Among the 15 first-place awardees from MSJ, Senior Anna Zeng and Junior Kevin Zeng also took home the American Society for Metals (ASM) Materials Education award, Sophomore Shruthi Chocckalingam won the International Sustainable World (Engineering, Energy, Environment) (I-SWEEP) Award, and Freshman Jennifer Yu won Special Awards from 4 different organizations.  MSJ totaled eight 3rd place awards, four 2nd place awards, 15 1st place awards, and 16 honorable mentions.


Dhara, a two-time ACSEF Grand Prize winner, devised a new technique for achieving fusion in his project titled “Achieving net gain nuclear fusion in nanocapsules by coupling sonoluminescence and magnetic confinement”. “By combining two established ignition pathways, I was able to create a method that is scalable, inexpensive, and relatively safe. This addresses the energy crisis we face today and the lack of sustainable energy resources,” says Dhara, who spent four months conducting research at UCSD in conjunction with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.


Shrivastava’s research concerned the way in which we view brain cancer, allowing for an earlier, accurate diagnosis and treatment of brain cancer. Currently, brain cancer patients have low survival rates because the detection of this disease tends to occur late in its progression. Her five-month research project “Progressing Targeted Cancer Therapy and Diagnosis Analyzing the Role of MicroRNA Target Interactions and Expression Signatures for Glioblastoma Progression” conducted at Stanford University is another step toward increasing brain cancer survival rates. Lu conducted his research on creating an algorithm that reduced the noise on pre-established native protein complex mass spectra viewing methods, aiding researchers in interpreting larger protein complexes. Lu hopes to follow up his research at UCSF’s Mass Spectrometry Facility with further improvement of the algorithm and a publication.


The MSJ 1ST place awardees are as follows:

Jessica Helder (11)

Adithya Jayachandran (11)

Sruthi Durai (10)

Ruiwen Shen (10)

Truman Leung (10)

Matthew Saleem (10)

William Yue (10)


Jonathan Lu (12)

Jeffrey Ni (9)

Mitchell Wu (9)

Jennifer Yu (9)

Vaishnavi Shrivastava (11)

Raghu Dhara (12)

Anna Zeng (12)

Kevin Zeng (12)


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