Thirty-five Missouri high schoolers received a Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Science at the third annual ceremony held Feb. 12 in the Millennium Student Center on University of Missouri-St. Louis' North Campus. Eureka High School junior Chester Montefering was one of those recipients.
The students were chosen by their respective high schools, based on good grades and demonstrations of outstanding capabilities in the sciences, according to a UMSL spokesperson.
Students, in addition to their parents and teachers, were treated to dinner and a piano performance by UMSL Chancellor and jazz aficionado Tom George. Guests heard former Sen. Jean Carnahan read a proclamation issued by Gov. Jay Nixon on science education. The keynote speaker was Michael Nichols, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UMSL. He gave a speech titled: “Proteins Behaving Badly in Alzheimer’s Disease.”
Nichols has led a team of researchers in the characterization of a small protein that is the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease. This protein has a unique property in that it self-associates with itself to form larger species that lead to the death of brain cells.
STEM refers to the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, according to an announcement about the science awards.
“Accomplishments in the STEM disciplines represent an essential component for America’s future,” said Ron Yasbin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in the announcement. “As a nation we need to nurture and support those students who will be the leaders in advancing our knowledge of those disciplines. By honoring students who have demonstrated truly outstanding capabilities in the sciences we are helping to reinforce the importance of these areas of study and research.”