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Potomac News

SERC Student and Advisor Receive Honors
SERC Student and Advisor Receive Honors

In March, senior Peter Holmes and faculty member Dr. Isabelle Cohen were recognized at the regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), held at Georgetown University.

Peter, a student in Potomac's Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) program, was awarded third-place honors at the JSHS. He received a scholarship and the opportunity to present his research, which focuses on a new method for producing ethanol as a biofuel, at the national JSHS in San Diego in April.

This is not the first time Peter has been recognized for this research. In January, he was named one of 300 Regeneron Scholars as part of the Regeneron Science Talent Search, a prestigious pre-college competition that also awards scholarships.

Peter began working on his project as a junior. Having read about using algae to make ethanol, he notes, "I tried to think outside the box about a way that could be more productive and more efficient. That would be to have a single organism, or at least one system, that can both ferment and photosynthesize at the same time, making the whole process more effective." Peter's research advisor, Dr. Isabelle Cohen, says, "His scientific approach was one of the soundest I have witnessed in my many years of research and teaching."

The admiration is mutual. At the JSHS, Dr. Cohen received the organization's 2017 Teacher Award, having been nominated by Peter. He wrote, "I would characterize Dr. Cohen as the most intelligent, hard-working, and considerate person I know. Within her role as an advisor in the SERC program, Dr. Cohen oversees approximately 10 students a year in their independently crafted research projects. ...Dr. Cohen does much more than merely monitor; she becomes a trusted confidant throughout the whole process. ...Without Dr. Cohen constantly pushing me to my greatest potential, I would not be where I am scientifically, nor appreciate the field nearly as much."

Congratulations to both Peter and Dr. Cohen!