Beyond the Pitch

Abigail Myers Receives 2014 VentureNEXT Student Award

Abigail Myers has been competing in science fairs since she was in the fifth grade. She’s currently 15, a sophomore at Big Walnut High School in Sunbury, and winner of the 2014 VentureNEXT Student Award.

Abigail gained inspiration from her dad who is a chemical engineer and from her fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Hoge, who as Abigail said, “is still always there, supporting me and my sister at science fairs.”

Science runs deep in the Myers family.

Both Abigail and her younger sister, Faith, have been among the select group of students asked to represent Ohio at the American Junior Academy of Science.

Abigail said she really became interested when she saw the BP Deep Water Horizon oil spill four years ago. “I started researching oil spills,” she said. “I wanted to see how normal people could really understand what was happening.”

For the last four years, Abigail has been studying the science of retrieving oil lost in oil spills. “I started by testing six sorbents to see which was more effective and how they differ in different environments—fresh water, salt water, and in waves,” she said.

Earning recognition for the quality of her research

As real world situations changed in recent years, so did Abigail’s project. “For example,” she said, “when countries began exploration in the Arctic Circle for new shipping routes and drilling locations as a result of the melting ice cap, I tested sorbent oleophilicity in Arctic conditions for the possible threat of spills in such extreme cold environmental conditions.”

Abigail has been invited to present scientific posters at the Ohio Academy of Science annual meeting for the last five years, and was inducted as a Lifetime Fellow of the American Junior Academy of Science while presenting her work at the national level in Boston and Chicago.

She also presented her research at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium poster presentation and competition in Bowling Green. Abigail earned the Delco Water Award; three first place awards—the Ohio Water Award, Ohio Society of Professional Engineers Award, and Ohio Geological Society Award, and she also received the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program Award for her most recent research project.

Abigail is a leader in the Big Walnut Science Club and is a role model, especially to other young women as well as to middle school students, more of whom are developing projects to participate in upcoming science fairs. “We all appreciate the support we receive from our high school science club advisor, Mr. Wallschlaeger,” she said.

Planning a career in medicine

Abigail says that studying solutions for oil spills has become a hobby she really enjoys, but her long-term plan is to become a trauma surgeon in the ER.

“I’ve known since I was two years old that I wanted to be in medicine,” Abigail said. So in between science fairs, she’s taking advantage of every opportunity to learn more about biological sciences—for instance, dissecting a cow’s eye at MIT and examining electron microscopes at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

“I like surprises and excitement, so I’m taking all the honors courses I can at school to prepare. My favorite class is biology,” she said. “It takes me longer than some others to do pre-calculus math homework; I have to take extra time to study, but I’d rather put in the work now than miss an opportunity later.”

And one more thing

When we spoke with Abigail, her voice was hoarse from singing nine hours over the weekend in the Honors Choir.

“I was one of three girls selected for Honors Choir to represent the school,” she said.

Abigail also plays the trumpet.

“We just completed marching band season and went to states. That was really fun. Now I’m on to concert band; this year I got third chair in wind ensemble and the jazz band,” she said.

But Abigail says that one of her favorite parts of the school year is the school musical. Last year she was one of the Pink Ladies in the school’s production of Grease and this year she is preparing for auditions for Once Upon a Mattress.

“I like to keep myself busy,” she said. “That means not getting a whole lot of sleep, but it’s been that way for me basically since the fifth grade, so I figure it’s prepping me for medical school. Everyone else will be tired, but I’ll be ready.”


VentureNEXT High School Awards are sponsored by TechColumbus with $2500 placed in a 529 College Savings Account on behalf of two students attending school in the 15-county Central Ohio region.

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