Westwood sophomore ranks in world science fair


Seven Central Texas students who excelled in February at the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival have won a total of five awards in global competition. The seven who won Best of Fair at the Austin festival advanced to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Pittsburgh earlier this month. 

Westwood High School sophomore Sindhuja Uppuluri joined students from the Austin Peace Academy, Veritas Academy and College Station High School in the competition two weeks ago. 

Uppuluri’s project studied the effects of nicotine on the behavior of round worms to help identify the chemical and cellular processes involved in drug addiction, leading to a better understanding and possibly more effective drug addiction treatment in humans. She won fourth place in the Animal Sciences category at ISEF and earned an eight-week paid internship from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institutes of Health. 

The Intel event is the world’s largest pre-collegiate science fair. Nearly 1,800 students from 82 countries competed for over 300 awards from organizations, universities and government agencies as well as Grand Awards in 22 science categories. 

“For more than 120 years, Austin Energy has hired engineers and scientists from Central Texas, so supporting technology education is second nature to us,” said Austin Energy General Manager Jackie Sargent. “It is gratifying to see our students do so well at the international level.”

Austin Energy is the main sponsor of the regional fest and organizes the event to promote science, technology, engineering and math education and to encourage students to pursue careers in these fields. Other major sponsors include the Intel Foundation, BAE, 3M, Synopsys, the Allergan Foundation, ThermoFisher Scientific, the Tyrex Group and many more. 

The local fair is supported by the Austin Science Education Foundation, which raises funds and recruits judges and volunteers.