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MIT Hosts 45th State Science Fair

By Hyun Soo Kim
News Editor

MIT hosted the 45th annual Massachusetts State Science Fair last weekend. Three hundred high school students from across the state competed for more than $150,000 in prizes, awards, and scholarships.

"It was a great experience. I've been doing it for four years. It's something that I've been working hard on," said Franco P. Benazzo, a senior at East Boston High School. "It's fun explaining my project to people who can understand it when you've been doing all this research."

"We would like to congratulate all of the student participants in this year's State Science Fair. A year of hard work, dedication and, impressive discovery is evident in the worthwhile endeavor which allows students to explore their interests in science. We look forward to continuing our support for the Fair," Bolduc said.

The students who participated in the fair were winners from local and regional science fairs held earlier in the year. Projects covered extensive areas of science, including astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, and computer science.

First place went to 26 students. Benazzo, who won first place in biology for his project on the production of monoclonal antibody to B lymphocytes ligand B7.2., summed up his project: He investigated the role of a particular ligand, a molecule which binds to cell receptors, that increases proliferation of T cells, white blood cells that fight bacteria.

His research can be applied to autoimmune therapy and organ transplants. Benazzo will attend Brown University in the fall. He hopes to eventually get a PhD in immunology.

Second place were shared by 34 projects. Erika A. Dahlin-Lee, from the Lexington High School, earned second place honors for a project called the "Computer-simulated algorithm for genetic selection."

Third place went to 38 projects, and 43 projects won honorable mention.

Benazzo noted that the judges this year seemed more knowledgeable. "It seemed that the caliber of the judges was higher, more professional, more questions; they expect you to know more," Benazzo said.

Some first place winners of the State Fair were selected to go to the International Science Fair. Benazzo, though not selected, won a $1,500 scholarship from Polaroid Corp.