Last year, the Investigational Research, Design and Innovation (IDRI) program at Oak Park and River Forest High School produced the winner of the international BioGENEius competition, with then-senior Jilly Cronin taking the top prize at what’s considered the world’s most prestigious high school biotech research competition. 

Cronin’s research explored a method for utilizing living organisms to absorb heavy metal pollution from water. 

This year, five of the 12 regional finalists who competed at the 42nd Annual Chicago Region Junior Science and Humanities Symposium earlier this month were OPRF IRDI students. Two of those students, Ellen Morgan and Stephanie Guralnick, won free trips to compete at the nationals in San Diego, California next month. 

According to District 200 officials, this is the first time that OPRF has had more than one student advance to the nationals. Morgan and Guralnick took second and fourth place overall in the Chicago region, respectively. 

Morgan’s research could lead to a safer, more effective method of treating patients suffering from ischemic stroke. Guralnick’s research explored how memory can be strengthened and reactivated during sleep. 

Who said you have to wait to become a full-fledged adult to change the world? 

Michael Romain

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