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Grand Award

3rd Place

Sponsored Awards

U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize, NASA Earth System Science Award 2022
HS-EA16

MITIGATING OCEAN ACIDIFICATION BY INCREASING THE PHOTOSYNTHESIS RATE OF MACROALGAE ULVA LACTUCA USING PHYCOBILIN, CAROTENE, AND COUMARIN​

Earth and Environmental Sciences
Jimena Uribe Lin

Grade:
11
Teacher:
Alfred Santos

"Tell us about your research project and what made you choose this project. The reason I chose to research on a way to mitigate ocean acidification is because it’s a global issue that a lot of people are not aware of. Ocean Acidification is the evil twin of Global Warming! When the Ocean absorbs Carbon dioxide it makes the ocean to shift to ph-neutral which can cause enormous damage to coral reefs and other marine organisms. The Current solutions that we have are so ambitious and expensive therefore I try to find ways to solve this problem through ecological rehabilitation using a Common MacroAlgae which is Ulva lactuca commonly known as Sea Lettuce. - Explain how you ran the tests? How many times did you repeat your tests? I ran the tests into two parts. First, to find the best amount of Carotene, Phycobilins, and Coumarin I created 6 experimental treatments with varying formulation. I observed the photosynthesis rate of each treatment by measuring the oxygen production using a Neulog Oxygen Sensor. I did this for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, I was able to identify the formulation which includes 0.3g of Carotene, 1 g phycobilin, and 0.1 g of coumarin. I collected 2401 Data points and validate them using ANOVA test. I then created this formulation and soak new Algae for 2 weeks. After marinating the Algae I then subject the Novel strain of Algae that I created into test for 5 weeks. - Were you surprised by your results/conclusion of your project? Why/why not? The results were surprising to me at first because I’ve never seen such a thing. But once I conducted a deep research on the topic, I learned that there are several methods to control ocean acidification. Nevertheless, measuring the pH never stopped surprising me since they all varied depending on the quantity of phycobilin and carotenoid. Overall , the novel strain of Ulva lactuca was able to increase the pH of the water by 1.04 which will significantly help our ocean to achieve alkalinity. - If you were going to do it all over again, would you change your test/project? How and why? If I were going to do it all over again, I would check if the Novel Strain of Ulva lactuca can sustain the increase in pH of the water. I was only able to test it for 5 weeks. I would love to see if the result will change if I do it for longer period of time. - Why/How are your findings important? My findings are important because • It presents an innovative, cost-effective and an ecological solution to mitigate ocean acidification. Current solutions are way too expensive and inefficient. • If we increase the ocean’s pH by 1.04 it will make a great benefit to the oceanic ecosystem. The prediction says that by 2100, ocean’s pH will go down to 7.8. So we need to act now! - What was the most challenging component of your experiment? The most challenging component of my experiment was using the tools to measure my experiment. I had never used a pH meter and an oxygen sensor. It was a completely unknown world for me, making me feel lost at times. But with time and plenty of repetitions, I comprehended their uses. - Did you try anything that did not work or did not give you expected results? If so, what did you learn from this? I remember that at the beginning of the experiment, instead of adding a reduced amount of phycobilin, carotenoid, and coumarin; I poured a huge amount onto the Ulva lactuca. Causing the water to taint to their according color, suffocating the Ulva lactuca almost instantly. But to prevent such tragedy, I threw out the water and put them in fresh new water and began pouring the solvents once again. This time, much more measured and controlled, so it did not kill the algae immediately. - How do the results from your project provide a benefit to society? The results of my project can provide society a healthier ocean and an increase in photosynthesis, since photosynthesis is elemental. Not only that but, it can benefit people who live near oceans, since they depend on clean water to live (economically). "


Project presentation

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Lab journal excerpts

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Research paper

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