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Brighton Senior Wins $35,000 Scholarship For Research Project

A Brighton High School senior has earned $35,000 for placing second in a national public health competition for high school students. Jessica Wilder Hart competed against nearly 60 other regional finalists to win the scholarship at the Young Epidemiology Scholars Competition.

Hart, who will graduate this spring from Brighton, won the award Monday in Washington, D.C. More than 100 scholarships are awarded each year to high school juniors and seniors who impress judges at the YES Competition. At the national contest, students are asked to give detailed reports on health-related research they have conducted using epidemiological methods of analysis.

Hart, who plans to attend the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester in New York, was honored for a project titled, “Comparative Risk Assessment of Female Infertility and Pregnancy Problems from Exposure to Toxicants Discovered in a Residential Neighborhood Located in the Mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake County, Utah.”

For the national contest, Hart was required to give a 12-minute presentation, in addition to answering questions from the judges for a 10-minute period. Her research project was based on the environment in which she grew up – the Little Cottonwood area.

Hart’s quest to find out more about the soil of the area was fueled by the stumbled-upon discovery that young women who were reared in the area, including her older sister, were finding it difficult to conceive and bear children.

Her project yielded interesting results: Hart found that women who grew up in her neighborhood – located near a Superfund site – were several times more likely to experience infertility issues. Many of the women were diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. Her sister was among those who suffered from the hormonal imbalance that affects fertility.

Hart says she plans to launch another study in a few years to see if environmental cleanup at the three former Little Cottonwood smelters that contaminated the soil with lead and arsenic has mitigated the impact to public health.   

Click here to read the Salt Lake Tribune’s feature story on Hart before she left to compete in Washington, D.C.
Click here to read a Deseret News story on Hart’s study.
Click here to see KSL Channel 5’s report.

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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