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Kansas Minds Illuminate Night @ The Lab

Annual Competition Celebrates Outstanding Cancer Research by High School Teams

Left to right, Varun Rastogi, Trisha Rastogi and Amy Harmon from Blue Valley High School 
Varun and Trisha Rastogi, accompanied by Blue Valley High School Gifted Education Specialist Amy Harmon, took home “The Beaker," an acrylic trophy for themselves, as well as one for their school.

On December 6, 2023, the University of Kansas Medical Center played host to Night @ The Lab, an annual competition that brings together bright young minds from all over Kansas.

A program offered by KU Medical Center Area Health Education Center (AHEC), Night @ The Lab prompts high school students to craft presentations based on health-related subjects, demonstrating their prowess in focusing their research efforts. This year, the students faced a broad range of questions on a variety of cancer-related topics, which allowed them to focus their research on their particular interest. Students submitted their presentations electronically, and a field of five teams from across the state were invited to participate in the December competition.

  • Ashley Picazo, Keysi Rodriguez and Antonyo Ortiz from Junction City High School
  • Hrithik Ranganathan, Nixon Banister and Zander Gluckman from Olathe North High School
  • Siena Vargas and Tanner Black from Golden Plains High School
  • Karley Forsyth, Aden Meyers and Avery Elofsson from Wichita Collegiate High School
  • Varun Rastogi and Trisha Rastogi from Blue Valley High School

The five teams presented their research to three judges from KU Medical Center’s faculty — Tara Lin, M.D., Nikki Cheng, Ph.D., and Wen Xing Ding, Ph.D. The judges, who are all distinguished researchers affiliated with The University of Kansas Cancer Center, scored the students on content and creativity, collaboration and teamwork, organization and preparedness, and presentation quality.

Tina Goosz-Garetson, AHEC health career communications coordinator tallied the scores and announced the winner.

This year the top prize went to Varun Rastogi and Trisha Rastogi, a brother and sister team from Blue Valley High School, for their presentation, “What are the Effects of Alcohol Use in the Risk for Cancer?”

Varun and Trisha (accompanied by Blue Valley High School Gifted Education Specialist Amy Harmon) took home “The Beaker," an acrylic trophy for themselves, as well as one for their school.

After the competition, participants had the opportunity to network with each other, as well as faculty and staff from KU Medical Center before taking a tour of the campus.

“Night @ The Lab is more than just a competition,” Tina said. “These students are the future of health care, and it’s exciting to see their passion as they interact with each other and with professionals in the field.”

Learn more about Night @ The Lab

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University of Kansas Medical Center
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