By Zane 

California State Science Fair Winners include Lincoln Middle School Student

Elisha D. Johnston was chosen for Project of the Year-Junior Division

Winners of the 2017 California State Science Fair were announced during ceremonies that took place April 25, 2017 at the California Science Center.

This year's fair drew 927 students from 400 schools statewide, with finalists selected from a volunteer pool of scientists and engineers from private industry and higher education. Students took home a combined total of over $60,000 in cash prizes.

The presenting sponsor for this year's event was Northrop Grumman Corporation with additional support from Chevron Corporation, Gilead Sciences, Inc., THE MUSES of the California Science Center Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and Southern California Gas Company.

Vivek V. Kamarshi, 10th grade, Monta Vista High School, Cupertino (Santa Clara County), was selected for Project of the Year-Senior Division and received a $5,000 cash prize. The project was titled "Effects of Gut Microbiota on Drosophila Models of Parkinson's Disease." Elisha D. Johnston, 8th grade, Lincoln Middle School, Santa Monica (Los Angeles County) was chosen for Project of the Year-Junior Division and received a $2,500 cash prize. Her project was titled "The Molecular Mechanisms of Regenerating Cartilage to Reduce Chronic Pain: Phenol-Glucose-Glycerin Upregulates FGF-2." Two special committees, one for each division, reviewed all first place winning projects from every subject category in order to select the best project in each division.

Shalin V. Shah, a senior at Tesoro High School, Las Flores (Orange County) was named California State Science Fair Student of the Year and was presented with a $1,000 cash prize. The project entry was titled "Lumos: Automated Smartphone-based Ophthalmic Screening for Glaucoma Using Computer Vision and Deep Learning Algorithms t." This award is presented to the high school senior who, in the opinion of the judges, best exemplifies the qualities necessary for success in science.

Dr. Aidyl Serricchio-Gonzalez, a teacher at The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks (Los Angeles County) was named California State Science Fair Teacher of the Year - Senior Division and Elaine Gillum, a teacher at Thurgood Marshall Middle School in San Diego (San Diego County) was named California State Science Fair Teacher of the Year - Junior Division. Each received a $2,000 cash prize.

Jeffrey N. Rudolph, President and CEO of the California Science Center commented, "Science is a valuable tool for understanding our world. Students use science, technology, engineering and math to reach evidence-based conclusions about their research and also develop critical thinking skills." The Science Center's involvement with the annual event dates back more than 60 years and is in keeping with its efforts to stimulate and nurture public interest in science learning.

Art Lofton, Sector Vice President, Global Mission Excellence for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems stated, "Northrop Grumman wholeheartedly congratulates Elisha Johnston, Junior Division Project of the Year award winner and Vivek Kamarshi, Senior Division Project of the Year award winner, and applauds all of the 2017 California State Science Fair competitors. You are our next generation of highly skilled scientists, engineers and technicians. You are our future."

In addition to the top awards, a complete list of Category Award winners as well as information on recipients of Special and Recognition awards can be viewed at

California Science Center is located at 700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles. Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission to the exhibits is free. Timed tickets are required for the Space Shuttle Endeavour exhibition during peak attendance periods and may be obtained online for $2. IMAX Theater tickets range from $5.25 to $8.50. Both the Science Center and IMAX Theater are wheelchair accessible. Visitors can enter the parking lot at 39th/Exposition Park Drive and Figueroa Street. Parking is $12/car. For general information, phone (323) SCIENCE or visit


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