Senior from Pine Bluff takes 1st place in ASMSA research symposium

HOT SPRINGS — Merin Duke, a senior from Pine Bluff, won first place in the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts West Central Regional Senior Research Symposium.

Two competitions - the science fair and research symposium - are the culmination of yearlong Fundamentals in Research Methods projects, in which students choose a science-, math- or humanities-based topic to study. Students who choose science or math topics compete in the science fair while students who study humanities topics compete in the research symposium.

The competitions were held Feb. 26-28. Students were recognized during an awards ceremony Friday, Feb. 28.

Merin won first place in the research symposium for her project, “The Controversy Behind the Sistine Chapel Restoration.” She is the daughter of Lisa and Charles Bauer Duke III.

Other Southeast Arkansas students who won recognition in the science fair are listed by category below:

Behavioral and Social Science

Third Place — Coleman Herman of Monticello, daughter of Erika Herman


Honorable Mention - Laura Lin of Stuttgart, daughter of Michael Lin and the late Julia Cheng Lin

Earth Science

Honorable Mention: Morgan Nall of Monticello, daughter of Amanda and Rodney Nall

Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering

Third Place — Dylan Johnson of Redfield, son of Laurie and Sean Johnson


Honorable Mention: Sanket Patel of Pine Bluff, son of Hemlata and Bimal Patel


Third Place — Erica Benoit of Redfield, daughter of Cheryl and Eric Benoit

The top three winners in each category are eligible to compete in the Arkansas Science and Engineering Fair, which will be held at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway on April 4-5.

Special awards were also awarded by various organizations that recognized students’ research in specific areas. Those awards include:

Morgan Nall, Association of Women Geoscientists Best Earth Science Project by a Female Student.

Each student participating in the science fair also participated in the West Central Regional Junior Academy of Sciences. Students were required to do a 10-minute presentation discussing their research. The category winners from Southeast Arkansas were:

Earth Science

Second Place — Morgan Nall

Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering

Second Place — Dylan Johnson

Physics and Astronomy

Second Place — Erica Benoit

The category winners for the research symposium from Southeast Arkansas were:

Arts and Literature

1st Place — Merin Duke


First Place — Tyler Hendrix of White Hall, son of Susan Hendrix of White Hall and David Hendrix of Greenville, Miss.

Students who competed in the research symposium also competed in a Junior Academy, giving 10-minute presentations on their work. The winners of the Junior Academy from Southeast Arkansas were:

Arts and Literature

First Place — Merin Duke


Third Place — Tyler Hendrix

Students were awarded gift cards and cash prizes as rewards for various achievements. The Arkansas Environmental Foundation provided cash prizes for the first- and second-place overall winners in the science fair and their sponsoring teachers. Additional cash awards for first- through fourth-place overall winners in the science fair were made possible through a grant from the Arkansas Legislature.