Chatham High School students Sophie Andrews and Robert Novak presented research projects at the 2018  Nokia NJ Research Science Fair on March 9-10 at Rutgers. Both students received awards.

Andrews presented on the detection of melanoma via deep learning. She used artificial intelligence methods to train the computer to recognize the images of melanoma and differentiate them from images of benign nevus/moles.

She was awarded the following awards and recognitions: First Place in Cancer Research, Statistics First Place Award, ISEF Symposium Finalist, NJIT CPCP Academy Scholarship Second Alternate, Second in Math and Computer Science, Computing Awards Honorable Mention, and ISEF Trip Award.

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Novak presented a lightcurve analysis of the asteroid 216 Kleopatra. He was awarded the Meteorology Award.

“A lightcurve analysis is used to study objects in the night sky that have a variable output of light," Novak said. "Since asteroids rotate in their orbits and usually have irregular shapes, the amount of light reflected to the Earth changes over time. I took many photos of 216 Kleopatra, and I compared its brightness to the brightness of several nonvarying comparison stars. Then, I was able to create a graph of the reflected light vs. time, and find 216 Kleopatra's rotational period.

"There are several things that you can use lightcurves for. The most interesting one (in my opinion) is lightcurve inversion. If you have many lightcurves taken over a long period of time, you can create a 3D model of the asteroid.”

When asked about his interests in this topic, Novak said, “I've always been interested in astronomy, ever since I learned about the constellations in Mr. Cronin's 5th-grade class. I became interested in lightcurves specifically after meeting my mentor, Mr. Alton, who I met through Chatham High School's Research Club, Dr. Naumova, and Mr. Gaba.”

Along with CHS junior Ashley Petersen, Andrews and Novak also participated in the 2018 Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, which took place at Rutgers on March 5-6.

“It was a great experience because I got so much exposure to the different research projects that people my age were completing," Petersen said. "It inspired me to pursue my own research this upcoming summer.”