Senior Bilyana Petkova took first place and senior Sheldon Sac­coman placed third at Beta Beta Beta’s 4‑NE Dis­trict Con­vention on Saturday

Seniors Bilyana Petkova and Sheldon Sac­coman placed first and third respec­tively for their oral pre­sen­ta­tions at the biology honorary’s dis­trict con­vention Sat­urday at Mt. Union Uni­versity in Alliance, Ohio.

Petkova earned the Brooks Award, the highest honor at the Beta Beta Beta 4‑NE Dis­trict Con­vention for pre­senting her research on oral bac­teria that could prevent tooth decay. She has the oppor­tunity to publish her work in BIOS, the honorary’s scholarly journal, and she is entitled to attend the honorary’s national con­vention in 2018 at Cal­i­fornia State University.

The con­vention honored Sac­coman for pre­senting his research on the capacity to induce muta­tions of the active ingre­dient glyphosate in the weed-killer Roundup. He found that, at a certain con­cen­tration, glysophate has prop­erties similar to a known car­cinogen after exam­ining it with a comet assay.

“Bilyana was an excep­tional researcher and did as much work in three weeks time as some stu­dents of mine have done over a six week period,” biology department chairman Frank Steiner said. “Sheldon is a problem solver and managed, pretty much on his own, to figure out how to get his comet assay to work, as some of the pub­lished direc­tions were not very accurate.”

Petkova said she was honored to be chosen and plans to submit her work for publication.

“I’m def­i­nitely con­sid­ering and going to talk with Dr. Steiner about the option of sub­mitting my written thesis as an article to be pub­lished,” Petkova said. “Hope­fully, I will be able to go to the national convention.”

Sac­coman said his favorite part of the con­vention occurred during the Q&A fol­lowing his pre­sen­tation. He said the audience was sur­prised to the extent at which glysophate had chemical prop­erties that cause muta­tions which may lead to cancer and that he enjoyed seeing Steiner in the audience smiling back.

“After we gave our pre­sen­ta­tions, he told Bilyana and I that we pre­sented like a couple of graduate stu­dents,” Sac­coman said.

Each of the stu­dents’ pre­sen­ta­tions lasted 15 minutes and included Pow­er­Points and ani­ma­tions. The judges pro­vided them with feedback and eval­u­ation sheets, fol­lowing the awards cer­e­monies. A poster session also allowed stu­dents to discuss their projects with their peers at other col­leges and uni­ver­sities in the district.

“It was really exciting to meet other stu­dents involved with Tri-Beta and to see their methods of pre­senting and compare notes as part of the mission statement of Tri-Beta is the dis­sem­i­nation of science and knowledge,” Petkova said.