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University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


News Bureau Schofield Hall 201 Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
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2002 Wisconsin Science Talent Search
Award Winners Announced 

MAILED: May 20, 2002

         EAU CLAIRE  The winners of this year's Wisconsin Science Talent Search, headquartered at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, were recently announced. Marc Burrell of Glendale was awarded first place. Burrell also placed 4th overall in the 2002 National Intel Science Talent Search competition, winning $25,000 in scholarships for college tuition.
         A panel of professors at UW-Eau Claire judged the Wisconsin Science Talent Search entries based on originality, scientific significance, independence, complexity of techniques, individual scientific comprehension, science potential, data analysis and writing skills. Burrell received a gift certificate for Border's Books and Music and a certificate of participation.
         Two other Wisconsin students received certificates of participation: Stuart Johnson of Cato and Nicholas Peterson of Valders.
         The National Intel Science Talent Search, America's oldest and most highly regarded science contest for high school seniors, was administered by SCIENCE SERVICE for the 61st year. Burrell's fourth-place project was among 1562 entries from more than 500 high schools in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. Each of the 173 schools that placed a semifinalist in the competition was awarded $1000 per semifinalist for the school's science and math education programs. Intel also awards $530,000 in scholarships to the top 40 finalists during a weeklong Science Talent Institute competition in Washington, DC.
         Burrell attends Nicolet High School. The title of his entry was "Phytoextraction of Lead from Contaminated Soils Using Triticum Asetivum: Effects of Chelate Application Time and Soil Acidification." His project involved showing that it is possible to clean up metal-contaminated soils using an emerging bioremedial technology. He was able to demonstrate the potential of a novel, cost-effective, and aesthetically pleasing method of removing lead contamination using wheat. Burrell's experiment showed that by making the soil slightly acidic, the method could become more effective for removing heavy metals. His mentors were Dr. Gregorio Begonia, Jackson State University, and Dr. Heather Owen, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. His high school teacher is Ron LeMay.
         Johnson attends Valders High School. The title of his entry was "The Effect of pH on Fly Ash Elutriations." His project attempted to show that as the acidity of rainwater increases, there is a better chance for heavy metals to leach out of concrete made using fly ash. Fly ash is a byproduct of coal burning power plants that contains unsafe levels of lead, cadmium, arsenic, and chromium, which are toxic. Fly ash is generally thought to be safe once it is "trapped" inside the concrete during production. Johnson was attempting to show that as acid rain becomes more of a problem, these metals might leach out into the environment. His project supervisor was James Evans, his high school chemistry teacher.
         Peterson also attends Valders High School. The title of his entry was "Testing Polychlorinated Biphenyl Adsorption Levels." He collected river sediment samples from various places in the Manitowoc River and then analyzed them for the presence of PCBs. Results showed some contamination of the river soil sediment. Peterson was hoping that it might be possible to determine where contamination settles in the river by mapping where the concentrations of PCBs were highest. His project supervisor also was Evans.
         The Intel and Wisconsin Science Talent Searches take place each year. The application deadline for next year's competition is in late November. More information can be found on the Web at

UW-Eau Claire Home  News Bureau
Judy Berthiaume
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: May 20, 2002