Briarcliff Student's Science Project Offers Global Relevance

Presenting at an international science fair, this high school senior tackles a huge global problem.

Name, Age: Steven J. Kalayam, 17


Accomplishment: Received Honorable Mention after participating in the 5th Annual ISWEEEP (International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering & Environment Project Olympiad) in Houston.

Key to Awesomeness: This young scientist has found a calling in environmental science. Steven Kalayam, a senior at Briarcliff High School, presented work from his INTEL science internship research project at the ISWEEEP Project Olympiad in Houston, TX, during the first week of May.

The gathering invited top high school researchers from all over the world who displayed their innovative ideas in promoting and maintaining global sustainability. There were 440 projects from 68 different countries showcased at the event.

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Kalayam’s work was entitled "The Retention Rates and Retention Abilities of Organic Matter Within Soil During a Period of Rainfall," and focused on ways to enhance soil strength and quality in order to improve problems of erosion.

“My mentor at Cornell University, Dr. Rebecca Schneider, had studied soil quality and erosion issues in China,” Kalayam said. “And I became interested in how this was taking place in upstate New York.”

He explained the huge problems and conflicts that result from water scarcity around the world compel him to study water conservation, and specifically, reduction of water runoff. 

The soon-to-be graduate will attend Marist College this fall and hopes to pursue these goals.

Briarcliff science teacher Kim Dyer said that her student’s passion about environmental science has resulted in high quality work.

“He has been completely professional and independent, and is able to communicate the essential points of his work to the general public and scientists alike,” she said.

Not to mention Dyer revealed her student's findings are relevant in areas around the globe.

“He found that adding organic matter to soil can help the soil retain water longer, thereby reducing runoff and erosion during rainfall," she explained, "and his findings suggest a simple and cost effective way to alleviate environmental and agricultural problems anywhere in the world.”

Besides science, Kalayam said he loves water sports—scuba diving, jet skiing and boating as well as anything to do with cars.

“That’s my other hobby,” he said. “Building, fixing, modifying—I am also really into cars.”

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