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Welcome to the ARC/ORNL
2015 High School Summer
Math-Science-Technology Institute!

Here you can learn about the students and teachers in this summer’s program, review information about the projects and find pictures of participants “in action.” Information will be updated frequently, so check back often for more!

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The ARC/ORNL 2015 High School Summer Math-Science-Technology Institute participants include 14 high school teachers and 36 high school students. These 50 participants are from 13 states within the Appalachian region. Four Resident Teachers chaperone the participants. The 2015 participants are distributed into 10 research teams: four of the research teams are comprised of teachers, and six teams are comprised of students. Team members generally do not know each other initially, but friendships become established over the two-week research experience.

2016 ARC High School Summer Institute Participants

Student Name, Home City and State

Reid Artrip, Bandy, VA


K-Cie Baldwin, Windsor, NY

Silas Barr, Warriors Mark, PA


Brien Beattie, Wintersville, OH

Savanna Bell, Saltillo, MS


Matthew Boyd, Vansant, VA

Tessa Brooks, Harrogate, TN


Nicole Broyhill, North Wilkesboro, NC

Zia Clifton, Leesburg, AL


Dianna Corbett, Raphine, VA

Dylan Crean, Laurens, NY


Nona Davis, Corinth, MS

Michael Davis, Wilkesboro, NC


Hailie Eastburn, Burkesville, KY

Jennica England, Subright, TN


Jacob Epstein, Smithsburg, MD

Kaeley Friel, Lancing, TN


Winzor Guerine, Johnson City, NY

Randi Hardin, Corinth, MS


Dominick Hopper, Laurens, NY

Treston Hughes, Cumberland, KY


Mark Johnson, Corinth, MS

Sylas Johnson, Nelsonville, OH


Caleb Kirschbaum, Lawrenceburg, TN

Thorne Lindsey, Lavale, MD


Ava Mccleese, Lucasville, OH

Robert Mahiques, Freedom, NY


Spencer McNeil, Granite Falls, NC

Jonathan Melkulcok, Wellington, KY


Miklos Obrunsazki, Oneida, TN

Dylan Spano, Cumberland, MD


Robert Surge, Tuskegee, AL

Bennett Watson, Fleetwood, NC


Caleb Workman, Tupelo, MS

Dawson Yost, Bradford, PA


Teacher Name, City and State

Anthony Barr, Claysburg, PA


Stephen Bias, Andrews, NC

Valerie Cangemi, Nelsonville, OH


John Davis, Patriot, OH

Timothy Elliott, Hurricane, WV


Malika Karunaratne, Johnstown, PA

Brian Kinney, Apalachin, NY


Dominic Mileto, Hubbard, OH

Darla Nash, Corinth, MS


Claudia Partee, Holenwald, TN

Ella Spiegel, Jonhsonburg, PA


Ramona Steigerwald, Elmira, NY

Teresa Ware, Belden, MS

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View Student Projects | View Teacher Projects

Student Projects

Application of Diagnostic Techniques for Measurements on the Prototype-Material Plasma Exposure Experiment (PROTO-MPEX)

Proto-MPEX TeamProto-MPEX is a linear device that uses magnetic fields to confine plasmas and direct them onto material targets, simulating conditions that will be found in future fusion reactors. The students will be introduced to a variety of techniques which are used to make measurements from plasma discharges, including survey spectroscopy, Doppler spectroscopy, filter spectroscopy, infra-red imaging, thermocouples, visible camera imaging, and probes. Students will examine data from computer terminals, both from a data archive and live, as the Proto-MPEX device operates. Students will assemble a database of measurements and look for trends.

ORNL Division: Fusion & Materials for Nuclear Systems

Mentor: Theodore Biewer

Students: KC Baldwin, Jackson Crouse Powers, Randi Hardin, Sylas Johnson, Ava McCleese

Uniformity of Thermal Aging of I&C Cable Insulation in Current Nuclear Power Plants

Thermal Aging TeamFor the aging fleet of nuclear reactors providing power in the US, license renewal is an important step toward extending the operating lifetime of these reactors. However in order to gain approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, each reactor must demonstrate knowledge through modeling and validations that the infrastructure will continue to operate safely. The cable insulation in instrument and control (I&C) and power cables is an issue that requires cable aging data on existing insulations that are harvested from reactors and models to project performance out to a 60 to 80 year operating lifetime. This project would involve the electrical and mechanical characterization of cable insulation samples that have been exposed to thermal aging. Several different cable samples will be exposed to air at different temperatures between 60 ̊C to 120 ̊C and the jacket and insulation materials of these cables will be evaluated in order to determine the effectiveness of a cable indenter to detect material changes along the length. This information will be part of an effort to build an effective knowledge base for use by those in the nuclear reactor operator community as well as the NRC, DOE, and EPRI.

ORNL Division: Fusion and Materials for Nuclear Systems Division

Mentor: Robert Duckworth

Students: Nicole Broyhill, Dylan Crean, Nona Davis, Noah Taylor

Design of Novel Polymeric Materials Using Computer Simulation

Polymeric Materials TeamMacromolecules often self-assemble to form natural materials like protein, DNA and also commercial materials like rubber. It is well known that the particles of macromolecules follow Newtonian mechanics at a classical level, i.e., they follow F=ma. Therefore, if we know the force acting on a particle at a given time, we can predict, by using Newtonʼs law, what is going to happen in a future time. For this, we feed the computer with the ʽvirtualʼ macromolecules and instruct the computer to find out the final product following Newtonian mechanics. Hence, the designing of novel polymeric materials on a computer can be achieved.

In this project we will try to understand how the molecules interact using computer simulation. What are the forces that bind them together? Why do they self- assemble in a particular form? What is the temperature and density range that should be used to achieve the best material design?

ORNL Division: Computer Science and Mathematics & Center for Nanophase Material Sciences

Mentor: Monojoy Goswami

Students: Treston Hughes, Miklos Obrusanszki

Heterologous expression of mgsD to identify potential adaptation to salt stress

Salt Stress TeamTetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) are two of the most commonly found groundwater contaminants in the United States. These chlorinated solvent contaminants can be remediated by a genus of bacteria known as the Dehalococcoides. Dehalococcoides have evolved to perform bioremediation of PCE to the environmentally benign ethene through a process called reductive dechlorination. Due to their widespread use in bioremediation activities, it is essential to characterize their physiological capabilities in various types of environments. This project will investigate the physiological effects of the mgsD gene on adapting to salt stress by heterologously expressing this gene of interest in E. coli, either from an autonomously replicating vector or from the chromosome itself. In completing this project, students will perform polymerase chain reaction (PCR), agarose gel electrophoresis and growth curves.

ORNL Division: Biosciences Division

Mentors: Nannan Jiang and Frank E. Löffler

Facilitator: Melissa Mynatt

Students: Silas Barr, Matthew Boyd, Dianna Corbett, Kaeley Friel

Magnetic Levitation

Magnetic Levitation TeamThis project will be exploring the principle of magnetic levitation by using a superconducting material. Assembly of a magnetic rail will be conducted to explore the magnetic levitation phenomenon with an oxide-based high Tc superconductor.

ORNL Division: Materials Science and Technology Division

Mentor: Ho-Nyung Lee

Students: Jenna Clifton, Winzor Guerine, Bennett Watson

Robotic Systems and Engineering Development

Robotic Systems TeamRobots are used in the industry to protect humans from hazardous environments or when the work involves highly repetitive and precision tasks. The objectives of this project are to (1) expose students to robotic projects underway at ORNL and (2) provide hands-on experience in designing, constructing and programming a small robot. The students will work in three groups on similar problems at the Remote Systems Group of ORNL’s Fusion and Materials for Nuclear Systems Division. The focus of this project is to develop the mechanical and programming skills that are needed to design, build and operate a robot. The student will build a robot that can navigate an obstacle course using various sensors (light, ultrasonic and/or touch). The students will learn which sensors are best suited for which purposes and what logic is appropriate for controlling the robot’s trajectory. Students will be using the Lynxmotion Tri-Track Robot and AL5A Robotic Arm for building and testing.

ORNL Division: Fusion and Materials for Nuclear Systems

Mentors: Venugopal Varma, Adam Aaron and Adam Carroll

Facilitators: Carl Mallette and Susan Baumann

Students: Reid Artrip, Tessa Brooks, Michael Davis, Jennica England, Dominick Hopper, Caleb Kirschbaum, Logan Knopp, Spencer McNeil, Lawrence Melkulcok, Robert Surge, Caleb Workman

Build a Supercomputer

SupercomputerStudents will build a supercomputer! Well, almost. Supercomputers typically use thousands of processors running in parallel to solve problems in science, finance, and other areas. They will build a smaller supercomputer to gain insight and understanding in how supercomputers are organized and then how to program them. Students will build a Beowulf cluster using ordinary computers. Students will then write a parallel program, compile the program, and execute that program on the cluster. Areas that will be covered during this project are:

  • Computing basics
  • Computer networking
  • Linux operating system
  • Computer programming

Project review and summary

Students will be required to answer the research question: "In what year would the supercomputer we build be considered the world's fastest supercomputer?" Students will be given classroom-style lectures in addition to hands-on assignment to enforce topics discussed.

Joint Institute for Computational Sciences

Mentor: Robert Whitten

Facilitator: Jerry Sherrod

Assistants: Benjamin Taylor, Nick Csercsevits, Tommy Hardin

Students: Brien Beattie, Savanna Bell, Hailie Eastburn, Jacob Epstein, Mark Johnson, Thorne Lindsey, Robert Mahiques, Dawson Yost

Teacher Projects

Investigating Cell Wall Structure to Improve Biofuel Production

Biofuel Team Teachers will help produce and characterize biomass from plants and algae as part of a research project that uses neutron scattering and computer simulation to examine the fundamental structure of plant cell walls. The project goal is to find better, faster ways to convert plant biomass to biofuels. The teachers will assist in laboratory production of algae, duckweed, and grasses for structural studies. Hydrolysis of cellulose in the cell walls by commercial enzymes will be compared for plants grown under different conditions. Structural effects at the cellular level will be evaluated by light microscopy. The teachers also will monitor the effects of cultivation conditions (such as illumination, aeration, and type of growth media) on the photosynthetic activity of the plants and microalgae by measuring carbon dioxide uptake and oxygen evolution.

ORNL Division: Chemical Sciences

Mentor: Barbara R. Evans

Teachers: Valerie Cangemi, Brian Kinney, Claudia Partee, Teresa Ware

Absorbent Tests for the Safe Storage of Radioactive Waste or Find a Better Cat Litter

Cat Litter Team On Feb 14, 2014 a major accident occurred at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico caused by the wrong kind of cat litter. In this accident a single drum of nuclear waste broke open. In the past non-reactive absorbent was used. This time organic cat litter was used that reacted with the waste materials to cause heating, which then eventually caused the drum to burst. A large number of drums were apparently stored the same way. This is clearly a serious safety issue that could result in a biohazard for the general population.

The last time testing was done on these absorbents was Jan 2005. It is clearly the time for this to be revisited. We would like to perform testing to either confirm or refute the absorbent from ORNL Stores as well as the bags of Quik Solid maintained by the Waste Handlers meet minimum weight of water to weight of absorbent of ratio of 18 to one. Secondary goals could be defined to test the 18:1 ratio for freeze/thaw testing and shaker testing as well as determining the maximum absorption ratio achievable that would not release liquids. This is important for the safe transport of these materials to the storage site. We would then have a basis for determining the proper absorbent to be used as well as avoiding those that might react with the waste materials and cause leakage and environmental contamination.

ORNL Division: Environmental Protection and Waste Services Division

Mentors: Susan Michaud

Facilitator: Brian Hingerty

Teachers: Tony Barr, JP Davis, Ella Spiegel

Lithium Titanium Oxide – Synthesis, Characterization and Uses in Lithium Ion Batteries

Lithium This research project will be conducted in ORNL’s Chemical Sciences Division (CSD), Materials Chemistry Group and is designed to allow participants to better understand processes required to conduct a research project on materials used to produce batteries. The teachers will experience the multifaceted levels of conducting research. They will be given a research assignment and work with a research scientist to understand the required background, processes, and safety procedures. Along with learning to apply many scientific concepts to a real-world problem, they will learn laboratory skills which will enrich and enhance their teaching when they return to their classrooms. In addition, during the two-week program, the teachers will meet other researchers within the Group and Laboratory community and learn about other ORNL projects.

ORNL Division: Chemical Sciences Division

Mentor: M. Parans Paranthaman

Facilitator: James R. Davis

Teachers: Steve Bias, Malika Karunaratne, Darla Nash, Mona Steigerwald

Physical Sciences-Oncology Network Data Coordinating Center (PS-ON DCC)

Energy In 2009, NIH’s national cancer institute (NCI) and office of physical sciences oncology (OPSO) launched the Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers (PS-OC) program by awarding cooperative agreements to twelve leading institutions to establish multidisciplinary cancer research initiatives, collectively making up an interactive and collaborative PS-OC Network composed of over 60 institutions. The ultimate goal of the PS-OC Network is to utilize physical sciences and engineering principles to catalyze new fields of study in basic and clinical cancer research, generate new knowledge of the disease at all length scales, and facilitate paradigm-shifting research. In 2012, the Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers Data Coordinating Center (PS-OC DCC) was launched with the goal of creating a unique informatics infrastructure to coordinate PS-OC generated data and high-performance computing analyses with the intent of catalyzing discovery in cancer research not otherwise possible without such coordination. The PS-OC DCC is responsible for all aspects of the informatics system design, understanding the physical measurements data for effective database strategies, and providing leadership in bridging data and physics through state-of-the-art computational analyses. Currently, the PS-OC DCC resides at the University of Tennessee, under development by a UT/ORNL team. The combined UT/ORNL infrastructure offers a powerful environment where the compilation of complex physical sciences data and models will eventually be seamlessly connected to back-end high performance computing. With an anticipated first-year data volume at 200 TB increasing 50 TB annually, the DCC will capitalize on UT/ORNL capabilities in large-volume storage management and high- speed data transfers. In addition to developing a secure, fast infrastructure that can handle Big Data, the challenges include understanding the involved physical science measurement technologies and material characterization, capturing the essential experimental parameters in metadata, and developing use cases for self- consistent physics-based modeling. This is not trivial since physical science data span diverse electromagnetic, chemical, and mechanical measurements from a wide variety of customized/specialized experiments and commercial tools.

ORNL Division: Computational Sciences and Engineering

Mentor: Ali Passian

Teachers: Timothy Elliott, Dominic Mileto

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Scheduled Activities for the ARC/ORNL 2015 High School Summer Math-Science-Technology Institute

Mountain Challenge
Smokies Baseball
American Museum of Science and Energy
museum of appalachia
Tennessee Riverboat Company
McClung museum
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
East Tennessee Historical Society

2015 Closing Event Video

Visit the 2014 ARC Institute Website to see what exciting projects and activities transpired!


For more information, please contact:

Jennifer Tyrell