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WLHS junior wins award at Oregon Bioscience Conference

Priyanka Basak presented on restorative dentistry


West Linn High School junior Priyanka Basak won Best High School Student Poster by the Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute. Basak presented her research at this year’s Oregon Bioscience Association Conference in October.

Basak’s winning research, titled “The Lethality of High Calcium by: SUBMITTED - Junior Priyanka Basak won Best High School Student Poster by the Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute.Concentration to Mesenchymal Cells as a Model for Restorative Dental Products,” discussed cutting-edge dental advances and experimental techniques in restorative dentistry. Basak said she was nervous to participate, and pleasantly surprised by the award.

“I’m kind of a regular kid,” she said. “The most I’ve ever gotten out of ISEF (Intel International Science and Engineering Fair) science fair was honorable mention from the district fair, so the award came as an incredible surprise. I’ve never blushed so much in my life. ... This whole journey has just been kind of surprise for me. I feel like I kind of underestimate myself.”

Eleven students presented their research to the judges at the Oregon Bioscience Association Conference using posters and an interactive question and answer series. Basak was selected based on the scientific merit and overall presentation of her research. As part of her award, she received an iPad.

The pavilion was used to entice and educate potential partners and investors about Oregon’s bioscience industry and to educate Oregon’s youth about careers in the science and technology fields.

The research Basak presented at the Oregon Bioscience Association Conference was based on her experience and summer internship through the the Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering Saturday Academy — a program that motivated high school students with professional scientists and engineers for eight-week, full-time summer internships — where she worked under John Mitchell with the Oregon Health and Science University School of Dentistry. The research, Basak said, is not published and therefore still mostly confidential.

“I worked with cells in the lab for several hours a day,” she said, adding that one day she used a diamond blade saw to cut through teeth. “It was a little stressful but definitely rewarding. I’ve never done anything like this before.”

Basak is hoping to receive another Saturday Academy internship next summer. She said she enjoyed dentistry but is interested in other medical research. In the meantime, she is taking advanced placement biology, advanced placement chemistry, English, civics, calculus AB and French War at West Linn High School and she has plans to enter the ISEF science fair again this year.

“This is a difficult course load this year but I really like taking all of the sciences,” she said. “I’ve never really wanted to be anything other than a scientist.”



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