Check Out Cool Projects From Young Scientists

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Teens at Addiction Science Awards 2016

Photo from NIDA. Pictured at the 2016 Addiction Science Awards are, left to right, Judges Dr. M. Foster Olive and Dr. Cassandra Gipson; First Place Winner Kashfia Rahman; and Judge Dr. Janet Neisewander.

Every year, NIDA’s Addiction Science Awards recognize some of the brightest and hardest-working teen scientists in the U.S., and this year was no exception! Check out what these teens discovered about stress, brain development, and substance use. The awards were selected from a broad range of entries at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona.

Stressed out about stress?

The first-place winner this year was Kashfia Rahman, a high school sophomore from South Dakota. She presented a project that showed how having a negative mindset about stress—in other words, thinking about stress in a negative way—can cause teens to sleep poorly, have difficulty remembering things and concentrating, and other problems.

Kashfia’s project shows that how a teen handles stress can affect how vulnerable they are to drug use and addiction, according to Dr. Nora D. Volkow, NIDA’s director. Volkow said the project could even help scientists develop new programs to prevent substance use in the future.

Kashfia received a third place Addiction Science Award designation last year, for her study on how teens get stressed out when separated from their smartphones.

Fruit flies provide clues

The second and third place winners both used fruit flies to study how different substances can affect biological development.

Lindsay Poulos, a sophomore from Florida, found that when fruit flies were exposed to e-cigarette vapor, their genes showed evidence of mutations (changes). This is a clue that e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine in a vapor form, do carry health risks. Lindsay was given a second place Addiction Science Award.

The third place winner was Rachel Mashal, a senior from New York. She found that fruit flies were protected from the negative effects of caffeine when changes were made to their diets. She also discovered that male fruit flies are more vulnerable to those negative effects than are female flies.

Want to learn more?

Congratulations to Kasfia, Lindsay, and Rachel, and to all of this year’s Addiction Science Awards participants! We hope they will continue to love science and make a real difference in the world. If you’re still curious about this year’s projects, check out the post on the main NIDA page.

Read about the 2019 winners of the Addiction Science Award.

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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