Local teen designs new fungicide to protect crops

Ruqaiyah Damrah (right) with lab team members Maniratnam Iyer from India and Alyssa Questell from Ohio (left). Photo courtesy of Ruqaiyah Damrah

Over 39 intense days this summer, Ruqaiyah Damrah of Lakewood, a student at Lakes High School, used wet lab techniques and modeling software to study an enzyme from a fungal pathogen, and to design a small molecule inhibitor to protect crops from that fungus.

Damrah participated in the Summer Science Program (SSP) as one of 36 gifted science students who came from around the world for academic challenge, collaboration, and personal growth. Since 1959, this unique and highly selective program has offered teenagers their first taste of hands-on, collaborative experimental research. Years and even decades later, many alumni describe it as “the educational experience of a lifetime.” Most go on to earn advanced degrees and leadership roles in their chosen careers.

Damrah and her colleagues worked closely with university professors, met prominent guest speakers, and took behind-the-scenes tours of local scientific and cultural sites.

SSP is an independent non-profit, operated in cooperation with host campuses New Mexico Tech, University of Colorado at Boulder, Purdue University, and affiliates Caltech, MIT, Harvey Mudd College.

For more information, visit summerscience.org.

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