Mass Academy Junior is Science Symposium Regional Winner

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - Karen Mendelson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Yitzhak Mendelson of Worcester, Mass., a junior at the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science (MAMaS), placed second at the Southern New England Region Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) for her project "An Inexpensive Fast Method for Measuring Carbon Monoxide in Whole Blood." The symposium was held March 20 and 21 at Harvard Medical School.

Mendelson developed a portable, battery-operated microspectrophotometer to measure carboxyhemoglobin (HbCO) in whole blood obtained from a finger stick. The device uses light transmission at two wavelengths to estimate HbCO content.

Sponsored by the U.S. Departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force, JSHS aims to promote research and experimentation in the sciences, engineering and mathematics at the high school level and to recognize students for outstanding achievement. Forty-four abstracts were submitted for the judges' consideration; 10 students were invited to give oral presentations during the symposium. Mendelson and the other top-five regional winners will attend the symposium's national competition in Albuquerque, N. M., in May. Only the first-place winner will compete; the others will attend workshops and participate in other activities.

Mendelson, who spent her freshman and sophomore years at Doherty High School in Worcester, completed her project there in 1996-97. She presented it in May 1997 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Louisville, Ky., where she won the Intel Young Scientist's Scholarship -- $40,000 to attend the university of her choice. She hopes to pursue a medical career. For her community service work, a Massachusetts Academy requirement, she volunteered in the University of Massachusetts Medical Center's Coronary Care Unit, where she entered patient records into a database. Mendelson's father is an associate professor of biomedical engineering at WPI. Both her parents are originally from Israel and she is fluent in Hebrew. In her spare time she enjoys tennis, running and reading scientific magazines.

A collaborative effort of the commonwealth, WPI and Massachusetts' school systems, MAMaS is a public high school for students in grades l1 and 12 with exceptional aptitude for mathematics and science.