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Science Fair International finalist: Caroline McHale
March 2, 2023
Senior Caroline McHale will be moving on to the International Science Fair due to her remarkable work in her project: “An Innovative Approach to Promoting Lignin Biosynthesis in S. lycopersicum Using Sound Waves.” McHale also earned a NASA Earth System Award and placed first in plant sciences at the Regional Science Fair.
McHale feels confident heading into the state and international competition because of her strong support system.
“Mr. Anglin makes sure we have everything we need and explains the processes and what it takes to move forward in the competition,” McHale stated.
McHale worked for extraordinarily long hours preparing her project.
“The process of collecting data took me two full days, but the process of research is never done,” she conveyed. “There is always more to discover and edits to be made.”
Regardless of her long preparation, she still faced many obstacles. During her experiment, McHale ordered a tool called an autoclave which she would need for data collection, yet a printer arrived in the mail instead. However, McHale found a solution: a pressure cooker.
“I had to find a more accessible tool that would do the same thing for my procedure,” McHale explained.
Despite this mishap, McHale maintained a positive attitude and viewed this as a learning curve.
“Research is full of obstacles; the most important thing is making justifiable choices in response to those obstacles and maintaining the validity of the research,” McHale commented.
Every project is created with the student’s passions and the needs of the real world in mind.
“With my research in plant physiology and pathology, I was able to find a potential mechanism to increasing plants resistance to disease by safely promoting processes that already naturally occur,” McHale voices. “I chose my topic because it is an issue that, if not solved, can do extreme damage to our environment.
McHale’s goal was to showcase how soundwaves could be utilized as a cheaper, safer, and more efficient treatment for the prevention of crop diseases.
“The most important impact of this is the efficacy, it is using sound to initiate an immune response in plants that is naturally occurring to build up its defenses before the disease has the chance to penetrate the cell and take its nutrients,” McHale explained.
Currently, McHale is preparing for the upcoming state and international competitions.
“Moving on to International is an amazing opportunity, it honestly still feels surreal being chosen.” McHale voices. “I’ve known about international science fair for the past couple of years and hearing about it, I never thought it would be a possibility that I get to go myself.”