Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

A Super Science Project

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

A Super Science Project

Article excerpt

Juliet Girard sounds a lot like the girl next door. Friendly. Perky. Chatty. But Girard is not the girl next door. A senior at William Dickinson High School in Jersey City, N.J., Girard recently won the Siemens Westinghouse Competition for a science project that would do any graduate school researcher proud. She and her fellow school partner, Roshan Prabhu, identified the gene in rice that controls its flowering time. The discovery can lead to more harvests in shorter time in dryer climates. The project could mean more people in impoverished nations having more to eat.

Girard and Prabhu won the team division of the contest and will divide the $100,000 college scholarship money. Girard is the first African American to win the prestigious contest, which annually spotlights some of the country's brightest high school science projects.

Always a good student, Girard was drawn to science early on. One influence was Bill Nye, the Science Guy on TV. Because of her grades, she qualified to attend a magnet high school for high achievers. William Dickinson High School has a strong science research program.

One of Girard's teachers and the director of the science research magnet calls her "a superwoman."

"She has such keen intelligence. She was in my power group of students who came in at 7 a.m. to get to work," says Michael Corcoran. She stood out even among talented students who had honed their expertise from many summers of science camp. Girard's grade point average is 99.5. She has never made below an A in school. She is editor of her school newspaper, a member of the National Honor Society, the Science Research Club, Key Club International and the Drama Club. Girard has participated in the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, the New Jersey Biomedical Symposium and other events.

Corcoran says Girard is extremely dedicated and extraordinarily thorough. She reads all the literature for a project. "Many students don't want to do that," he says.

He considers Girard socially conscious, a trait reflected in her choice of research projects.

Last year, Girard received a summer internship through the NASA Sharp Plus program which allowed her to be an intern at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. There she became more interested in researching plants. …

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