Young scientists, Shan Lateef and Delaney Walts, have had their scientific manuscript published in peer-reviewed journal
Posted on 06/06/2019
Two student scientists, Shan Lateer (l) and Delaney Walts (r)Two young scientists, Shan Lateef, a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School, and Delaney Walts, a sophomore at Colgan High School, recently published a scientific manuscript titled "Effect of Ultraviolet Radiation and the Antioxidant Curcumin on the Longevity, Fertility, and Physical Structure of Drosophila melanogaster: Can we defend our DNA?" (Manuscript Number: JEI-18-072R1) in the “Journal of Emerging Investigators” (JEI).

The article, published on May 18, 2019, studied the effects of ultraviolet radiation on Drosophila melanogaster, also known as the common fruit fly, and examined whether antioxidant-enriched nutrition would combat its potential harmful effects. The students’ research specifically focused on how UV radiation impacted lifespan and fertility, whether it caused physical abnormalities, and whether the introduction of the antioxidant curcumin would enhance lifespan and fertility and mitigate the harmful effects of radiation. The research results showed that UVB radiation caused a 59 percent decrease in the lifespan of their specimen and affected the flies’ physical appearance but did not significantly affect fertility. “Curcumin significantly prolonged lifespan and enhanced fertility for both UV- and non-UV-exposed flies.” The results led the researchers to conclude that curcumin can prolong lifespan, enhance fertility, and mitigate harmful effects of radiation on fruit flies.

Their conclusion: “Our research demonstrates that we can harness the positive potential of natural antioxidants and use them as weapons in our war against radiation-induced diseases, including conditions like cancer.”

Lateef and Walts’ research was originally completed for their 2017 Regional Science Fair project when they were students of Amy Massman, former science teacher at Benton Middle School, and Virginia Junior Academy of Science (VJAS) sponsor, LaRina Clark, then at Benton Middle School. Their project received the U.S Public Health Service (Office of the Surgeon General) award and took first place in the "Human and Animal Sciences" category at the VJAS Research Symposium, as well as winning the Dorothy Knowlton Award for presenting the best middle school paper in the life sciences. Lateef and Walts edited their paper during the 2018–19 school year, based on suggestions by the editors at JEI and completed all the edits to be successfully published. Clark, now an earth science and oceanography teacher at Hylton High School, has assisted the students during the editing and publication process.

According to its website, JEI is an open-access journal that publishes original research in the biological and physical sciences written by middle and high school students.  JEI provides students, under the guidance of a teacher or advisor, with the opportunity to submit and gain feedback on original research and to publish their findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. JEI emphasizes close mentorship during the publication process, allowing for meaningful connections between PhD students at top research universities, who are the peer-reviewers, and the secondary student research writers.