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Sarah Burkey stands with her Science Fair project “Developing A Urinalysis Immunoassay for Cortisol Detection Year 2” earlier this year. She won First Place at the virtual National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Arlington, Va.

CONYERS — Sarah Burkey, a senior at Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, is one of eight First Place winners in the 58th National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, the premier showcase for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) research by high school students.

Burkey won a $12,000 scholarship for her First Place Oral Presentation of “Developing A Urinalysis Immunoassay for Cortisol Detection Year 2.” She plans to attend the University of Georgia next year.

The competition, sponsored by the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force and administered by the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA), gives students (grades nine-12) a chance to present original scientific research and compete for scholarships and cash awards, while participating in workshops, panel discussions, career explorations, and research lab visits.

After 57 years of bringing students and researchers together for face-to-face national competitions, this year’s competition brought students and researchers together virtually.

During the three-day virtual event, administered by the National Science Teaching Association, students also participated in interactive activities to enrich their JSHS experience and were exposed to additional DoD opportunities available to them. Approximately 130 high school teachers, mentors, university faculty, ranking military guests, and others also attended.

“We were honored to be able to create a virtual space this year to recognize the work that these young researchers have been working on all year long,” said Alexis Mundis, JSHS project manager.

The national winners, announced April 17 at the virtual awards ceremony, first presented their original scientific research at one of 47 regional competitions hosted by universities and colleges in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Department of Defense (DoD) Schools of Europe and the Pacific Rim.

The top five students from each region — 230 high school students in total — then participated in oral or poster presentations during the national event. The first and second place regional finalists competed for a chance to earn scholarships ranging from $4,000-$12,000, while the third, fourth, and fifth place regional finalists competed in the poster competition for a chance to win cash awards.

For more information about the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), visit

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Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.

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