Hillsboro High School ISR Seniors and Juniors participate in the annual science symposium event at UTK


Recently, five Hillsboro High School students from the Interdisciplinary Science and Research traveled to University of Knoxville to present their independent research projects at the Tennessee Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

Oliver Eagan, a junior, placed first in the poster talk category with his presentation of “Investigating Oxy E as a Cancer therapeutic using MOCCA Cells”. Eagan also qualified for a bid to the TJSHS national competition.

Others who attended are senior Joshua West, senior Sylvie Stephenson, senior Maya Kiev, and  junior Tony Potchernikov are ISR seniors and juniors who proposed and completed intensive research projects that took nearly an entire semester to complete.

Josh West, a HHS senior shared that his biggest takeaway from the trip was learning that people really can change life for the better.  “People our age can make a real impact in science, and I was impressed by the amount of research my peers conducted”.

The project has been described as similar to capstone projects college students complete their senior year. Learning how to complete long, indepth research projects enables students who opt for the challenge to be college ready before graduating high school.

Presenting infront of an audience can be terrifying for many, however, Sylvie Stephenson learned public speaking is an obstacle that can be conquered and overcome.  “Personally, I can see how far I’ve come in terms of public speaking, and it was a good confidence boost. It has always been difficult for me to speak in front of people, so this was a great opportunity for me.”

Using the skills, they learned from the past three years in the program, they work independently and communicate with their peers and instructors Dr. Joshua Swartz and Dr. Daniel Michel to produce their best research for their last year in the program. The Juniors create posters to show their research in cancer research for their semester. There are opportunities to present this research in which one is the TJSHS.

Three students nominated from schools give oral presentations, and two students for poster presentations. The objective of TJSHS is to promote research and experimentation in the sciences, tech, engineering, and mathematics at a high school level, recognize the significance of research in human affairs and the importance of human and ethical principles in the application of research results, search out talented youth, recognize their accomplishments, and encourage their interest, expand the horizons of research oriented students by exposure, increase the number of adults capable of conducting research and development, and provide opportunities for outstanding student researchers to present their findings orally to interested students and adults.

Selected by Dr. Swartz and Dr. Michel, these students represented the school and program excellently. Their project titles are shown:

 Sylvie Stephenson- Senior

Establishing a Link Between CCL5 Absence and Calbindin-Positive Amacrine Cells in GUS-GFP Mice

 Josh West- Senior

Teaching Students Computer Science Through AR Development with the Xbox Kinect

 Maya Kiev- Senior

Determining the Survival Rate of Stress Induced Wolbachia Infected Fruit Flies

 Tony Potchernikov- Junior

An Investigation into the Health of Richland Creek between 2013 and 2017

 Oliver Eagan- Junior (Placed First in Poster Talk)

Investigating Oxy E as a Cancer therapeutic using MOCCA Cells

The Interdisciplinary Science and Research (ISR) Program  at Hillsboro is a four‐year program designed for highly motivated high school students who are interested in pursuing studies with a research‐based interdisciplinary science focus. These curricula are rigorous and will require students to be dedicated learners, open to new ideas, diligent in their work habits, intellectually honest, and willing to work collaboratively and respectfully with fellow students and university scientists.

Selected Achievements of ISR Students

  • Median ACT score of 28, with one third scoring above 30
  • 2015 National Merit Scholar and 2016 National Merit Semifinalist
  • 2015 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology Semifinalist
  • 12 students selected for Vanderbilt’s 6-week summer research internship Research Experiences for High School Students (REHSS)

College Matriculation

Colleges attended by recent ISR graduates include:

  • Belmont University—Full Ride Scholarship
  • Rhodes College—Full Ride Scholarship
  • Lee University—Full Ride Scholarship
  • University of Colorado at Boulder—Full Ride Scholarship
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Dartmouth College
  • George Washington University
  • University of California at Los Angeles
  • University of Chicago