Virginia Teen Challenges Experts with PFIESTERIA Findings; To Present Prize-Winning Research at Inte
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- ITT Industries, Inc.
(NYSE: ITT) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) today announced Brenda
Goguen, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in
Alexandria, Virginia, as this year's U.S. winner for the Stockholm Junior
Water Prize, the world's most prestigious water science prize for youth.
Goguen, whose research challenges the theory that Pfiesteria picicida caused
the crippling fish kills in the late 90s in the Chesapeake Bay region, will go
on to compete with finalists from 22 countries during World Water Week in
Stockholm, Sweden, with a grand prize presented by HRH Crown Princess Victoria
Goguen's project examined the microbial characteristics of Pfiesteria --
an organism believed to exist widely in a nontoxic, benign state, but with the
ability to attack fish by emitting powerful toxins when changing shape and
behavior. Goguen studied DNA in soil sediments taken from five rivers that
empty into the Chesapeake Bay, from an experimental fish tank at the Center
for Marine Biotechnology (COMB) in Baltimore, Md., and from samples purported
to be pure amoeboid Pfiesteria cultures (tester samples).
The results of Goguen's studies cast doubt on the validity of the
prevailing hypothesis that Pfiesteria preys upon fish. Her research points
out that there may be other organisms causing the fish kills, and invites
broader thinking and further study. In addition, her findings may have
implications for the agricultural industry, as some researchers have linked
high levels of nutrients, such as fertilizer and animal waste, to outbreaks of
the toxic form of Pfiesteria.
"While the judges were impressed with the level of sophistication shown in
all of the students' projects, Brenda showed courage in questioning a
prevailing viewpoint," said WEF Past President Charles Sorber, who led the
judging panel. "Her methodology was sound and disciplined, and she took on an
area that is so contemporary, she did not have the aid of a large body of
"A project of this magnitude and importance to the scientific community
truly demonstrates that young people can provide unique insights into solving
today's problems," said Thomas Martin, Senior Vice President and Director of
Corporate Relations for ITT Industries. "For the past five years we've been
sponsoring the prize, we've seen more than 200 national finalists from around
the world tackling issues as complex as contamination of drinking water
supplies and the effects of pollution on wildlife."
Sponsored globally by ITT Industries and organized in the U.S. by WEF, the
Stockholm Junior Water Prize was established to encourage the interest of
young people in water environment issues at the regional, national, and
international levels. The prize, now in its fifth year, is awarded to high
school students who have contributed to water science through outstanding
original research. Student submissions are judged by water experts from WEF on
the basis of relevance, creative ability, scientific procedure, subject
knowledge, and presentation.
Founded in 1928, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a
not-for-profit technical and educational organization with members from varied
disciplines who work toward the WEF vision of preservation and enhancement of
the global water environment. The WEF network includes more than 100,000 water
quality professionals from 77 Member Associations in 31 countries.
ITT Industries, Inc. (NYSE: ITT) is a global engineering and manufacturing
company employing 42,000 people worldwide, with reported sales of $4.8 billion
in 2000. ITT supplies advanced technology products and services in key
markets including: electronic interconnects and switches; defense
opto-electronics, information technology and services; fluid and water
management and specialty products. In addition to the New York Stock
Exchange, ITT Industries is traded on the Midwest, Pacific, London, Frankfurt
and Paris exchanges.
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