Cascia Hall students win international competition

Remember when your high school science project was the construction of an erupting volcano or the mixture of random chemicals to keep your sports shoes from smelling? These days, students like Beau Bingham and Erika Ravitch of Cascia Hall Preparatory School in Tulsa are winning international competitions for work in microbiology and animal science. The two recently returned from the 2017 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles where Bingham won a second-place grand award in microbiology and Ravitch was a finalist for her animal science project.

Bingham’s project is titled, “Identification, Pharmacological Screening, and Antivirulent Mechanistic Determination of Compounds and Fractions Isolated from C. crispus Extracts.” Wow! In laymen’s terms, Bingham isolated a compound from a species of algae that, in addition to meeting common parameters for druglike molecules, lowers the “super-bug” Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus’ (MRSA) ability to cause disease.

Bingham, who recently graduated from Cascia Hall and is heading to Dartmouth College in the fall, credits his biology and environmental science teacher Sally Fenska for “being a tremendous influence on my scientific thinking and on developing the skills to develop my project.” Bingham’s other honors include:

  • Regeneron Science Talent Search Finalist 
 – Selected as one of the top 40 STEM 
 students in the U.S., honored with the 
 ability to ring the closing bell of NASDAQ
  • 2017 Student Leaders Exchange Honoree 
 – Honored by the National Committee on 
 U.S.-China Relations as a high school 
 rep resentative of the U.S. this summer 
 (will meet Chinese politicians, 
 go on homestays, etc.)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
 (MIT) Ceres Connection Honoree – 
 Honored with a minor planet named in 
 his honor by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory

Ravitch’s winning project is titled, “Evaluating the Effects of Probiotics on Neurology in the Model Organism Drosophila Melanogaster Adult Flies and Third Stage Instar Larvae Utilizing Environmental Stressors and Behavior Assays.” Ok … double wow. Ravitch has found that probiotics, the good bacteria we consume, can influence eaten or neurological stress in developing and mature flies. This suggests that probiotics could become a source for remediation of short term stress response in organisms. Ravitch plans to continue her research as she enters her senior year of high school this fall.

“Cascia Hall has been extremely supportive in my research endeavors. I conducted all of my research in the high school lab under the supervision of my sponsor, Sally Fenska, who has been a research mentor for over 30 years,” said Ravitch. After graduation in 2018, Ravitch plans to double major in Biology and Spanish with a minor in medical business and eventually matriculate to medical school. Ravitch’s addition honors include:

  • Oklahoma State Science and 
 Engineering Fair Scholarship
  • Society for Women Engineers Award
  • Cascia Hall Science Research President
  • Key Club President
  • Bronze medal for the 2017 
 National Spanish Exam

The impressive work of these science students will most certainly affect the field of medicine in the near future. For more information on Cascia Hall, visit