May 22, 2018

WCU’s Vishal Shah Evaluates Young Scientists

West Chester University's Vishal Shah, associate dean of the College of the Sciences and Mathematics, had the opportunity to encourage future scientists by judging entries in the Group from Science Competition 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF).

The fair is the world's largest pre-collegiate science competition that showcases independent research from approximately 2,000 high school students from 81 countries, regions, or territories. This year's fair on May 15–18 in Pittsburgh, PA, offered more than $4 million in awards.

The fair is a program of Society for Science & the Public and is funded jointly by Intel with additional support from organizations that include Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society. Sigma Xi members like Shah volunteer each year to evaluate more than 300 presentations in 22 research disciplines to select the award winners. Shah was one of 17 judges to select winners of special awards for life science and physical science projects that best demonstrate interdisciplinary research. In addition to $6,000 in prize money, the awards include a nomination to associate membership in Sigma Xi with the first year of dues paid, and an invitation to submit a manuscript to Sigma Xi's refereed journal for high school research, Chronicle of the New Researcher.

"Interacting with these students makes one feel positive for our future," said Shah. "Every single poster was founded on strong critical thinking and hard work. The students' communication skills were exemplary and I am proud to have had this humbling opportunity to interact with these scientists."

Shah has previously served as an evaluator for Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and a reviewer for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and numerous international funding agencies. He is an academic editor for the journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment and co-chair of WCU's Global Leadership Team.

Research in Shah's lab involves developing microorganisms-based technologies that directly influence current human needs while reducing our impact on the environment. His laboratory is working on developing mathematical models to understand the impact of metal nanoparticles on soil microbial community. Other projects in the lab includes understanding and mitigating the impact of nuclear radiation fire on soil microbial community.