Wilde Lake junior wins award at regional science fair

March 26, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

A junior from Wilde Lake High School captured the grand prize in the physical science division of the Baltimore Regional Science Fair last weekend at Towson State University.

Sabyasachi Guharay, 17, won two scholarships worth $150 and an invitation to the International Science and Engineering Fair in Louisville, Ky., to be held May 10-16.

Guharay's winning entry -- "A mathematical model to study correlations across the three domains of life" -- used several mathematical and computational techniques to determine common patterns in genetic sequences.

As Guharay explained it, most genetic sequences are influenced by evolution and appear random, but his study looked for common patterns that could shed light on evolution.

"For instance, it opens up understanding on how humans are similar to plants," he said. "If common strains are found between human genes and plant genes, this indicates a more concrete hypothesis for a common ancestor for evolution."

According to James York, a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland College Park who has been Guharay's mentor for two years, the study also determined that certain parts of human DNA -- called introns and considered unimportant -- are randomly created, much like the much more important exons that are responsible for creating proteins.

"This wouldn't be a surprising finding except that it contradicts limited findings on this topic," York said. "He's a remarkable young guy."

Guharay said he plans to do more research on his findings for the May contest.

"I feel good to represent this region," he said. "I'm very optimistic and confident about my studies."

Pub Date: 3/26/97

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