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ETHS seniors Julia Crowley-Farenga and Patrick Loftus entered the team competition and were named Regional Finalists in this year’s Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, the nation’s leading original research competition in math, science and technology for high school students.
These students worked together during the past few months with astrophysics postdoctoral fellow Dr. Laura Trouille at Northwestern University. Their research focused on a new morphological classification scheme of post-starburst galaxies, which are rather rare galaxies in an interesting phase of galactic evolution. In the past, the sample size of these galaxies that had been studied was on order of a few dozen. But Ms. Crowley-Farenga and Mr. Loftus went through a new database of 2,800 of these galaxies, bringing in new research possibilities for astronomers. Their work immediately led to new findings that are helping astronomers figure out which of four theoretical models of galactic evolution are valid. The data came from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey experimental collaboration.
As regional finalists, Ms. Crowley-Farenga and Mr. Loftus receive $1,000 scholarships and will compete against five other teams by making presentations at the University of Notre Dame in November. A panel of professors will select the national finalist team representing the Midwest from this group who will then be able to compete for the final prize of a $100,000 scholarship for the overall winning team.