Aberdeen student qualifies for international science fair


ABERDEEN (AP) – An Aberdeen high school student’s science fair project that looks at creating a collagen protein so it could be used to make replacement ligaments has earned him a trip to an international contest.

Roncalli senior Simon Bickford set out with the goal of taking a gene from a sample of DNA, amplify it and place it into a plasmid vector (an extra piece of DNA that bacteria use) and induce the bacteria to make the protein with that gene. With enough of that protein, he said, ligaments can be grown, which can then be used for replacements in humans.

With limited time available to work on the project, Bickford didn’t get all the way to the creation of a ligament. But he did find success, the Aberdeen American News reported.

“The data suggests I did successfully make a part of it (the protein).” he said.

His next step is to create the entire protein, then look at the creation of a ligament. Northern State professor Jon Mitchell supervised the research and said that to his knowledge, something like this hasn’t been done.

“He came to me with the idea,” Mitchell said. “It’s a really brilliant idea. We were both totally shocked that it worked.”

Bickford will give virtual presentations this week at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, with additional events planned May 16-21.

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