Competing alongside nearly 700 fellow Westchester science research students, high school senior Julia Balch impressed the judges with her research study of two breeds of the European honeybee.
During the annual Westchester Science & Engineering Fair on March 16, Balch’s research, “Distinctions Between Russian and Italian Breeds of Apis mellifera as Seen in Northeastern Beekeeping,” earned her second place in the environmental science category.
“She received a certificate, a medal and a $100 prize for her excellent work,” said science research teacher Paul Rubeo.
Balch has worked for two years on her topic and plans to continue learning about environmental science-related issues in the coming years. She enjoyed learning about other science queries posed by her peers at the fair and called the experience “surreal.”
“The work done by the other students was incredibly impressive and it was an honor to compete against them,” she said.
Balch credits her time in the backyard beekeeping alongside her father growing up as the inspiration for her research topic, along with what she has learned about current issues honeybees face throughout the United States. Balch noted she hopes her research will be helpful to beekeepers who struggle in combatting the parasite Varroa destructor, a major cause of the colony collapse disorder.
“I have learned so much about the scientific process and I had so much fun working with my science research class, my teacher Mr. Rubeo and my mentor, Dr. [Michael] Hohn [of Merck Pharmaceuticals],” Balch said.
In the fall, following her high school graduation, Balch plans to matriculate at Yale University.