Congratulations to Caddo Magnet senior Joey Clary, who has been named a Top 300 Scholar in the 80th Regeneron Science Talent Search for his work on a 3D clinostat. As the title implies, he is one of 300 seniors in the nation to receive this honor. Both he and the school will receive a $2,000 grant, and he is eligible to be chosen as one of 40 Finalists (award of $25,000!) Finalists will be announced on January 21st.
Joey’s journey began in 2019 when he designed and built a 3D clinostat with two rings that rotate independently with different motors. Because of this, the clinostat can be programmed to run at different rotational velocities, allowing experimenters to subject biological samples to simulated microgravity and to study the effects of simulated microgravity on cells.
Joey won JSHS in Louisiana with his initial work. Using his data, his mother and he wrote a Louisiana Grant to LaSPACE (NASA and Board of Regents consortium). Joey also helped to design the experiments, especially for Aim 1 of the grant: to improve the design and optimize conditions for the experiments. They were awarded the grant, which started during the Fall of 2020.
Joey also developed a program to identify the optimal ring speeds to get the best operating conditions for the 3D clinostat. He has now improved the platform where experimenters attach their flasks of cells and a new stand. As part of the grant, Joey and his mother (Dr. Lynn Harrison of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at LSU Health Sciences Center) tested his machine (cost ~$1000 to build) in biological experiments at Kennedy Space Center in the Microgravity Simulation Support Facility. They were able to test the clinostat’s efficacy by comparing their results to results for the same experiment obtained with the KSC’s Random Positioning Machine (cost ~$65,000).
In the experiment, they exposed neuronal-like cells to simulated microgravity for 24 hours. The cells were then fixed and brought back to LSUHSC to be stained with an antibody that detects DNA damage. Thus, Joey can see if his clinostat produces a similar biological effect as the vastly more expensive machine at KSC.
This promising experiment could potentially save tens of thousands of dollars, and we are happy and proud to see Joey rewarded for his innovative work!