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Albemarle High sophomores win grand prizes at last month's science fair

Two Albemarle High School sophomores won the grand awards at the at the 39th annual Virginia Piedmont Regional Science Fair held on March 4 in John Paul Jones Arena, fair officials have announced.

Meenakshi Ambati, a sophomore and Katharina Ravichandran each won a $2,000 scholarship from the fair’s organizers and were eligible to attend the now canceled International Science and Engineering Fair in Anaheim, California. The fair was canceled due to concerns relating to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

All first place winners in the myriad categories offered by the fair are invited to compete in the Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair on April 18. The fair is being held online.

Ambati won for her project titled “Triangulating Fluoxetine into a Novel Macular Degeneration Therapy via Biochemical, in Vivo & Big Data Approaches.” Her research indicated that Fluoxetine, a drug already approved by the FDA for treating clinical depression, could be repurposed for dry macular degeneration as potentially the first treatment for this disease.

Ravichandran won for her project in mathematical sciences on “Application of Mathematical Modeling to Herd Immunity.” Modeling her study on measles, her research showed that a minimum of 93% of the population needs to be vaccinated to achieve the herd immunity necessary to protect the immunocompromised and the greater population.

Albemarle High School teacher Alan Tarrab assisted both winners.


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