OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Oak Ridge High School students are being recognized for their science research and awarded scholarships. 

Several seniors received top honors at the Tennessee Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. 

“I feel what got us to first place was the ability to convey what we had researched and our results clearly and effectively, basically to get people to understand the significance of our findings,” said Joe Blair. 

Blair placed first for presenting the research he and his partner, Gus Morrill, produced using deep neural networks to identify exoplanets. 

The students conducted research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory with help from scientists as part of the math, science and thesis course at Oak Ridge High School. 

“That was a very valuable resource because whenever we had questions about code or what the next step should be or if we were running into roadblocks, he would always be really supportive and help us find a new direction to go in,” said Morrill. 

In third place, Nicholas Podar and his partner Hudson Reynolds used machine learning to replace simulations of tumor growth. 

The two say their challenging classwork helped put them on a path to success. 

“I think in terms of workload that it’s taught a lot of work ethic which has prepared us for this which is also not very easy, and it also gave us the background knowledge that we needed to actually do the project,” said Podar. 

Now, these talented seniors are preparing to present their academic achievements on the national stage later this month. 

The students will travel to Virginia for the 61st National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium on April 12-15, 2023. 

There they will compete for additional military-sponsored scholarships.