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Princeton High School News

Katherine Monroe (PHS ‘23) has been selected as a student delegate to the World Food Prize’s 2022 Global Youth Institute. Katherine was one of only two students selected from New Jersey for this prestigious conference.

Katherine will present her research to a roundtable of agriculture experts, scientists, and 300 students from around the world. She was selected after submitting a final draft of her Global Challenge paper in July.

A third-year student in the PHS Research Methods Program, Katherine’s paper built on the work that previous research students have done with the black soldier fly. Where initial research focused on the black soldier fly’s ability to consume food waste - a major contributor to greenhouse gasses and a fundamental problem facing the world - and how to transform waste products into useful products, Katherine’s research looks at the fly waste products’ potential for improving soil and plant health. 

For the World Food Prize program, Katherine researched and wrote a paper identifying a problem related to the environment, agriculture, or food insecurity in a country other than her own, outlining the challenge and presenting solutions and recommendations. She initially presented her paper at the New Jersey Youth Institute, hosted by Rutgers University.

Mark Eastburn encourages his students to explore real-world problems facing the planet: the need to grow food for a continuously growing population, how to efficiently distribute that food, and manage food waste. The students’ studies into how nature handles waste and production inspired their work with the black soldier fly. To see a recent video about this research, please click here.

Katherine’s project examines the positive impact insect waste could have on plants.

Can the frass (fly excrement), which is high in nutrients such as potassium, phosphorous, and calcium, be a beneficial fertilizer for plant growth? Additionally, her study examines the chitin from the fly’s exoskeleton. Chitin is the primary component of fungal cell walls and might improve disease resistance in plants. Katherine’s experiment hopes to inoculate cucumbers from powdery mildew; she is tracking the differences in survival rates for cucumber plants in treated and untreated soil. The cucumbers join the amazing terraced garden created by Mr. Eastburn and his students in a courtyard at PHS, which students began creating in March 2022. 

The Global Youth Institute will be held virtually October 16-21.  

Katherine loves Biology and is intrigued by plant science, plant genetics, and gene expression. She hopes to study environmental science and sustainable agriculture in college, looking forward to fieldwork and research opportunities. She also anticipates studying public policy. Please join us in congratulating Katherine on her accomplishments and wishing her luck as she prepares for her presentation! --K.M.

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