Meghal Sheth’s research about hearing loss has allowed her to do things most high school students only dream about.
The Camas High School junior presented her findings with mentor Dr. Allison Coffin at the Association for Research in Otolaryngology conference in San Diego last month.
The invite came about after Coffin asked Sheth to join her and co-present their research on BPA (Bisphenol-A).
“She wanted me to experience going to a big conference and she also wanted me to be able to showcase my research project as first author,” Sheth said. “We’ve spent a lot of time together working on the project and she said that since I did a lot of the work, I should be able to present it.”
The presentation involved a “poster session,” where Sheth, 16, had an opportunity to speak about her project and answer questions. During the conference, she was also able to attend seminars about current hearing research.
“It was really cool being able to meet both research scientists and clinical scientists, especially because I particularly would like to be a clinical scientist,” said Sheth, who is in the CHS magnet program. “Just being able to talk to different researchers from around the world about science and even career options was a valuable and once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Sheth has been working on her BPA research for close to two years.
“I have found that BPA in plastics can potentially cause hearing damage in humans, and this can be prevented through a higher intake of antioxidants,” she said.
Food with high levels of antioxidants includes cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, beans, artichokes, russet potatoes, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts.
Sheth remarked that presenting her research at a professional conference was “amazing.”
“When I presented to some scientists, some of them didn’t know I was in high school and they were still interested, which felt good because that meant they genuinely liked my research,” she said. “But when people found out I was in high school a lot of them were shocked. Many scientists told me that I was the first high schooler they’ve ever seen at the conference.”
Her magnet teacher, Kim Newman, describes Sheth as a remarkable communicator.
“She is able to express complex scientific concepts in a relatable way,” she said. “She has the determination, discipline and passion to be an excellent scientist.”
Recently, Sheth was one of the grand prize winners at the Southwest Washington Science and Engineering Fair, and will be competing as a finalist at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair this May in Los Angeles. She also attended last year.
In addition, she took first place the Washington Junior Sciences and Humanities Symposium held at Seattle Pacific University in mid-March. Sheth received a $4,000 in scholarships, and Newman won $500. Sheth will compete at the National Junior Sciences and Humanities Symposium in Washington D.C. in April.