BRF STEM education program participants receiving recognition for their achievements

BioStart students DeMarcell Frierson and Haylee Davis (center) are pictured with their LSUHS mentors (left to right) Dr. Yunfeng Zhao and Dr. Hyung Nam at the BioStart Poster Session.

Participants in this year’s Bobbie Cates Hicks Science and Medicine Academic Research Training (SMART) and Biotechnology Magnet Academy at Southwood High School programs recently competed and placed in the Louisiana Region 1 Science and Engineering Fair.

Both programs are part of BRF’s EdVentures education initiative to build the region’s science and technology workforce.

SMART student winners are as follows:

Division C High School Biomedical and Health Sciences Category

1st Place – Caroline Henry, Loyola College Prep

2nd Place – Milena Murov, Caddo Magnet High School

3rd Place – Sai Kanchan Javalkar, Caddo Magnet High School


Division C High School Cellular and Molecular Biology Category

1st Place – Elijah Burks, Caddo Magnet High School

2nd Place – Karaline Simpson, Captain Shreve High School


Division C High School Physics and Astronomy Category

1st Place – Ashini Modi, Caddo Magnet High School


Modi is the Division C High School Overall Winner for her project completed outside of the SMART program, which is titled “Modeling the Atmospheric Evolution of Exoplanets in the Habitable Zone of M-dwarfs”.

Modi also won Division C Special Awards: American Materials Association; NASA; and Yale.

The SMART program, launched in 1997, is a yearlong research experience for approximately 10-12 academically advanced high school seniors from Caddo, Bossier and DeSoto parishes. The students work alongside investigators at LSU Health Shreveport on research studies. SMART students have a career interest in medicine, biomedical research or biomedical engineering. The program is a partnership among BRF; LSU Health Shreveport; and the Caddo, Bossier and DeSoto Parish School Boards.

Southwood High School Biotechnology Magnet Academy winner:

Division C High School Biochemistry Category

2nd Place – Haylee Davis, Southwood High School Biotechnology Magnet Academy

Southwood High School also placed third in sweepstakes.

Davis also participated in the BioStart Internship program, which provides seniors of Southwood’s Biotechnology Magnet Academy the opportunity to conduct a research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor at LSU Health Shreveport.

BRF helped launch the Biotechnology Magnet Academy and BioStart programs in conjunction with the Caddo Parish School Board, LSU Health Shreveport, LSU Shreveport, participating biotech companies and Southwood High School in 2009. The four-year academy enrolls an average of over 200 students, many of whom are women, minorities, from low-income families, and first-generation college bound. The program has helped raise Southwood’s overall school ranking from a D to a B.