Bill Crugnola Wins National Siemens Competition

By MELISSA POLLACK

Across the country, hundreds of students competed in the 2014 Siemens Competition in math, science, and technology, including Jericho High School senior, Bill Crugnola. The Siemens Competition promotes comprehensive research in order to improve students’ knowledge about the importance of scientific study and the need for advanced education. Crugnola was named an award winning national finalist in late November in Pittsburg. Winners were announced at The George Washington University in the nation’s capital, where three Long Island High School seniors were honored. Crugnola was partnered with Katie Mazalkova of Valley Stream Central High School for the competition, and together the two won a $30,000 scholarship.

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Siemens competition winner Bill Crugnola and Dr. McCalla share a congratulatory moment. She always believed in Bill. “I allowed him to see that it is possible for him to be successful,” McCalla said.

For his research, Crugnola spent two years studying and learning about heart disease. “I looked at the role of stem cells and their potential treatment in cardiovascular disease. However, I actually found that certain types of stem cells that exist in the blood vessels actually promote cardiovascular disease,” Crugnola said. A diligent and hardworking student, Crugnola has been interested in this topic since he was a child. “I’ve been interested in stem cells since I was a young kid. I heard a lot of news stories about the moral issues surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells. Now, my interest in cardiovascular system has kind of risen from my research into stem cells,” Crugnola explained.After the research is completed, there are three stages in the Siemens Competition. Science Research teacher Dr. Serena McCalla explained the process, “Initially, the students have to submit a research report along with a mentor form. Then 300 semi-finalists are selected for the competition. From the 300 semi-finalists, they pick 96 regional finalists. The regional finalists compete against each other in their respective regions and then all the winners of the regional finals go to nationals, and those competitors are from all over the country.” The rigorous judging operations, administered by many proficient scientists, are the same throughout the regional and national finals.

Crugnola was ecstatic when the Siemen’s Competition announced his name. “To actually hear my name was amazing. I was really shocked. All my friends and family had the biggest smiles on their faces when they heard I won,” Crugnola shared. Although gathering the research was time consuming, Bill Crugnola’s passion for what he does continues. He said, “I hope to go back to the lab this summer to continue what I was doing this past summer.”

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