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John Jay High School's Tess Tobin Named Intel Semifinalist

John Jay High School 2015 Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist Tess Woerner Tobin, center, with her science research teachers Jodi Riordan, left, and Anne Marie Lipinsky.
John Jay High School 2015 Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist Tess Woerner Tobin, center, with her science research teachers Jodi Riordan, left, and Anne Marie Lipinsky. Photo Credit: Contributed

LEWISBORO, N.Y. -- John Jay High School senior Tess Woerner Tobin has been named an Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist for her research on stinkbugs.

Tobin’s interest in pheromones and two years of science research paid off with her national recognition when she was given the award on Wednesday.

“I was in a state of disbelief,” said Tobin. “I really didn’t expect to be chosen. I thought for sure there was a mistake and it wasn’t really me.”

Tobin is one of just 300 honorees nationwide selected as a semifinalist in the pre-college science competition who will receive a $1,000 award from the Intel Foundation. An additional $1,000 will be awarded to John Jay High School.

Tobin’s research focused specifically on the brown marmorated stinkbug. With guidance from science research teachers Jodi Riordan and Anne Marie Lipinski, Tobin connected with George Hamilton of Rutgers University, whose research includes the examination of pesticides and pest management. In his lab, Tobin tested whether a stinkbug sex pheromone and aggregation pheromone would attract the insects, as well as whether lemongrass and clove essential oils would deter the stinkbugs.

“The results were very encouraging,” she said. “I found that the lemongrass oil was significantly repellent.”

Tobin hopes to expand upon her research using a larger sample size of stinkbugs and see if her findings can be applied to controlling the stinkbug population’s damaging effects on the nation’s crops.

The 40 Intel finalists will be named on Jan. 21.

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