The Journal of Emerging Investigators, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, has published the original research of Mina Mandic ‘21. Mandic, who graduated from SPA in the spring of 2021 and is now a first-year student at Swarthmore College, conducted her research in the Upper School’s Advanced Science Research course during the 2019-2020 school year. Mandic’s research project, entitled Exploring the Wonders of the Early Universe: Green Pea Galaxies and Luminous Flux, is a study of the light emitted by “Green Pea” galaxies—entities that may provide clues to the conditions of the earliest galaxies in the universe. She pursued her project as part of the Upper School's Advanced Science Research (ASR) course, which is SPA's most advanced course for student-scientists.
Upper School science faculty and department chair Karissa Baker taught the ASR course during Mandic’s junior year and worked with her on her project; Baker notes that Mandic was first inspired to study cosmology after taking SPA’s Space Science elective with Dr. Steve Heilig her sophomore year. “Dr. Heilig’s class inspired Mina to dig into cosmological research in the ASR course, and to connect with Dr. Claudia Scarlata [a cosmologist at the University of Minnesota] to act as a mentor for her research, says Baker. “Mina was remarkably independent in her project,” Baker adds, “and I was very impressed with how she took feedback, especially during the competition process in the spring of 2020. She was continually improving how she communicated her work to both experts in the field and the general public.”
Mandic’s project earned multiple honors in the state, national, and international science fair competition process in 2020. She won one of five finalist spots for Minnesota students at ISEF, the International Science and Engineering Fair, as well as a major award at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Mandic is the second ASR student in the last two years to have her work published in the Journal of Emerging Investigators; the ASR research of Nathan Sobotka ‘20 was published by the journal in the spring of 2020. “The process of submitting research to a peer-reviewed scientific journal, such as the Journal of Emerging Investigators, is truly a commitment,” Baker says, noting that Mandic worked on her submission for almost a year. “Mina learned a great deal from the detailed level of feedback she got from the peer reviewers, who are experts in their field, and also experienced first-hand how rigorous the scientific peer-review process is.”