Seniors Julie Huh and Jenny Lee were semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search, America’s most prestigious pre-college science competition. Each will receive $1000.
Jenny Lee ’10 is using the McGurk effect stimuli to study how lip-reading ability correlates to the combining of two syllables and how that relates to speech integration in the brain.
She is researching the relationship between lip-reading ability and auditory speech perception in teens and adults with mentor Lynne E. Bernstein.
Lee’s project uses hearing screenings, lip-reading, and vision screenings. Her hypothesis is that lip-reading affects speech perception when your auditory and visual skills are mismatched.
Lee said her biggest challenge was getting student volunteers who were required to take the McGurk test and the multiple screenings. As the volunteers took the test on a computer in a sound booth, Lee supervised from a TV linked to a video camera inside the booth.
There were 41 participants who produced usable data. Eleven were adults and 30 were teenagers, half of the total are male and the other half female.
Females seemed to have better lip-reading abilities than males. Lee’s research has not shown a large difference in lip-reading ability between adults and adolescents.
Lee was also challenged by the design, process, and outcome.
“I have to figure out an experiment to explain why my results came out the way they did. Analyzing all the data and making connections and finding the hidden meanings for subtle differences in the data was challenging,” Lee said.
The most enjoyable part for Lee was working in a professional science environment, which has a different atmosphere than the science labs at school.
Science instructor Arleen Forsheit has worked with Lee over the years. Forsheit explained that she learned a lot as a student, but also developed and grew as a person.
“Jenny is a strong, independent and determined learner. Before this project she was not the most extroverted, but now she has really grown and has become more willing and outgoing,” Forsheit said.
– Article written by Elyse
When faced with the decision to choose her Honors Research Project, Julie Huh ’10 knew she wanted to work with water quality and conservation. She was largely inspired by her dad, Hong Shin, who owns a water filtration business.
“He’d sometimes test the dissolved solids in the water at restaurants we’d go to and determine the quality of drinking water. After a while, we’d be able to tell the quality just by its taste,” Huh said.
When Huh’s father took Huh along to the homes of his customers, she noticed that historically older regions had lower water quality levels due to old, leaky water pipes that couldn’t be replaced as often as necessary.
By the end of tenth grade, after many visits and water samplings, Huh wanted to take part in researching water quality. Under the guidance of John Dorsey at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), Huh decided to study Del Rey Lagoon. The lagoon near LMU is connected to Ballona Creek Estuary.
“I wanted to see whether the bacteria coming into the Del Rey Lagoon affected Ballona Creek, which has a TMDL, Total Maximum Daily Load, a standard set by the Californian government regarding the amount of bacteria permitted in the body of water,” Huh said.
“The important thing about Del Rey Lagoon is that it’s a community space and a recreational area for families. Though visitors don’t swim in the lagoon, the bacteria that infiltrate nearby sands can be unsafe for young children and dogs. A part of my project was studying the bacterial species to determine whether they were harmful or benign,” Huh said.
During her weekends as a junior, she would venture out to Del Rey Lagoon to obtain samples, and during weekdays, she would be in the lab, planting bacteria. To avoid costly methods, Huh and her mentor found a “cheap way to understand different types of bacteria by using a desktop analyzer that analyzes samples of bacteria,” Huh said.
Dorsey was impressed with the unique ecological objective of Huh’s project.
“She did something different than most students do. The vast majority of students work in a lab with a controlled experiment – not many do environmental type work. What stood her out amongst all the other candidates was that she’s looked at how to apply her knowledge to use in policy,” Dorsey said. “She doesn’t just sit there and let me direct her, but she’s always putting in suggestions and asking good questions. She’s not afraid of reaching out there to do new things. She always asks, ‘Why shouldn’t we do it like this?’ She has the enthusiasm that professors crave for.”
Jennifer Valdez, a graduate student who worked with Huh, agreed with Dorsey and said that working with Huh helped her view the project differently.
“I come from an engineering background, so working with a student interested in environmental research has helped me to see different perspectives,” Valdez said. “Working with her, I know she’s going places,” she said.
When recollecting memories of her project, Huh answered, “Lab work is pretty repetitive. I mean, it’s not rocket science, but the best thing was making connections with my mentor and Jennifer.”
Currently, Huh is working on another project regarding the California water drought and also taking a close look at Marlborough’s water bills and the usage of water at school.
– Article written by Annie, UV Contributor