A Hayes High School student was recently selected to represent the Ohio Academy of Science at the 2019 American Junior Academy of Science (AJAS) conference in Seattle next year.
Carmen Pape, a junior at Hayes, said a couple students from each state are selected to go to the AJAS conference. She applied for the position last semester and used research she did when she was a freshman.
Pape said there will be scientists, classes, labs and lectures at the conference, which is being held in Seattle in February.
“I’m really passionate about climate change,” she said. “We had to do a science fair study and it had to be centered around environmental changes. I knew (Dr. Amanda Waller) and she has rats, so we decided we should work with those. Through her, I was able to gain access to a blood pressure machine for rats.”
Pape said her experiment focused on the specific ways diets in humans would change as a result of climate change, and the experiment was done on rats because their anatomy is very similar to humans.
Pape added she feed rats normal kibble for three weeks, recorded their blood pressure and habits throughout the three weeks, and then switched the rats to a diet of less kibble and more processed foods that have higher counts of salt and carbohydrates for three weeks to see how their blood pressure and habits changed.
“The diet we studied is the diet a lot of Americans already have today,” Pape said. “As a result of climate change and the rising ocean levels, people will be moving inland and there will be higher concentrations of people. So, there will be overpopulation, an economic crash, and the only food we’ll be able to have access to is junk food. It’ll be the easiest to produce, and actual food will have less nutrients because foods growing near the ocean will have higher salt.”
Pape said after three weeks on the new diet, they put the rats back on the regular diet for three weeks and continued to monitor them.
The results of the study, Pape said, showed that while the rats were on the climate change diet, their water intake and blood pressure increased, and the rats showed signs of stress and antisocial behavior. Pape said the rats also suffered adverse effects when switched back to regular kibble. She added even after returning to a normal diet, the rats hoarded food and still had antisocial habits.
“It’s kind of scary, since they are surrogates for humans,” Pape said. “Humans already tend to have large emotional swings. If a climate change diet is going to make that worse, it’s going to cause a lot of issues.”
Pape said she was thrilled to be selected to attend the conference.
“(It’s) pretty awesome,” Pape said. “I learned we are going to be meeting all of these renowned scientists, doing classes and labs. It’s going to be really cool to see people my age who are all interested in the same things and get their perspectives on science, climate change and current issues.”
Pape said she really likes Hayes, but is excited to speak to students and scientists from other parts of the country.
“This is a pretty cool community, and I have a lot of friends here, but obviously, they don’t represent everyone in America,” Pape said. “There are a lot more people I can meet. I haven’t really realized how different each part of America is.”
The AJAS conference will take place February 12-15, 2020, in Seattle, and it will be held in conjunction with the Advancing Science, Serving Society Conference.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.