Brooke Davis, a senior at Darien High School, was awarded fifth place at the 49th Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium on March 12 for her presentation of her study of new methods for classifying beluga whale vocalizations.

Davis was one of just 14 students statewide selected to give oral presentations at the symposium for high school students.

Davis's fifth place finish earned $500 for her school and $250 for herself from the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering and a trip to the National JSHS in Bethesda, Maryland, in May.

In addition to Davis, the rest of the CT JSHS top five oral presenters were:

First Place -- Ryota Ishizuka, senior, Greenwich High School, for his research on the development of electronic skin that can mimic the tactile sensing of humans.

Second Place -- Shiyu Zhuang, junior, Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge, for her study of how a combination of light and drug therapy can speed up wound healing.

Third Place -- Yihuan Hu, senior, Hamden High School, for his presentation on the role of the MyD88 protein in DNA damage response.

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Fourth Place -- John Solder, senior, Staples High School, for his study of the use of light therapy to treat prefrontal brain disorders such as Parkinson's disease.

About 200 Connecticut high school students attended the CT JSHS. Students had to be nominated by a teacher to take part. Only a portion of those students presented their own original research at the event, either as oral presenters in a lecture hall or as poster presenters in a less formal setting.

While only selected students presented research, all participants were able to tour the UConn campus and take part in some hands-on rocket-science. They also enjoyed presentations by science role models Dr. Shawn Soutiere, a medical researcher with the U.S. Navy, and UConn's own Eric Knight, futurist, inventor and president of Remarkable Technologies. Knight's brainchild, Up Aerospace, provides space flights for the general public and private industry.

Everyone had the chance to be inspired by the ingenuity and accomplishments of their peers. John Riley Pflomm of Watertown High School was blown away by some of the student presenters.

"It's amazing that kids our age are doing this," he said.

That's just the kind of reaction their teachers are looking for.

"We hope to bring the kids here as a sort of inspiration," Jennifer Montoney, a science teacher at Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford, said, "People tell me all the time that high school kids can't do research. They haven't seen these kids," Joy Erickson, director of CT JSHS, said.