MSEF Students Ahead of their time with Environmental Science Projects in the 1980’s-90’s

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In 1985, advertisements for the Massachusetts State Science Fair pictured a globe with the caption, “Step into a new world.” The science fair was indeed a new world, and the projects showcased advancements in technology and gave a preview into how people’s lives could be different 10 or 20 years from then. As we celebrate our 70th anniversary this coming week, we would like to highlight how students participating in MSEF have highlighted environmental science and predicted the conditions of the world today almost 30 years ago.

In 1981, Stephen Treon was awarded in the state fair for his project, “Ozone Layer Deterioration: Mutagenic Effects of Sub lethal UVB Radiation on Pseudomonas aeruginosa.” In his two year project, Stephen analyzed how the depletion of ozone could have harmful effects on human life, specifically by increasing the resistance of harmful bacteria, so that much more antibiotic is required to kill the bacteria. He also took a look at some broader trends, noting how the ozone depletion rate in 1981 had doubled since 1976, and he expressed concern about further depletion.

Kristin Skrabis (photo left) took home the first place prize in the 1982 state science fair for her research on acid rain. In her project, she explored the effects of chemical emissions and volcanic ash on acid rain and the resulting damage on the environment. Kristin discovered that these events and actions cause the depletion of soil and increased acidity of water in addition to the degradation of plant cells. Kristin analyzed the effects in two places, the first near a volcanic eruption in Washington and the second in the New England area. Her project explored how events and activities miles away still had an effect on ecosystems everywhere.

Julie Ann Sautter (photo below) was not expecting the huge success of her research project in 1998. Julie was named a semi-finalist in the Science Talent Search Competition, one of the most prestigious competitions for high school seniors. After losing a childhood friend to disease, Julie was determined to help preserve life by studying the environment or medicine. She was inspired to analyze how diesel oil affected the salt marsh ecosystems in her area.

MSEF has seen many projects explore how the future of our environment will affect people and other ecosystems. It is inspiring to see how many students over the years have discovered their passion for conserving their home and working to ensure the future of humanity. Ozone layer deterioration, acid rain, and the effects of diesel are all topics actively being researched by top scientists today, and are extremely relevant to the future. Students who conduct their own science research projects are ahead of their time, and we continue to look at these projects as a glimpse into the future.


Come celebrate 70 years of encouraging young minds to push boundaries, and come see history in the making.



Blog written by Paige Vincent