ASMSA student a semifinalist in competition

Taryn Imamura, a senior at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts, was recently named a semifinalist in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology.


Imamura, the daughter of Cynthia and Dr. Bryan Imamura of Conway, was one of two national semifinalists from Arkansas in the nation’s premier research competition for high school students. There were 466 semifinalists from a pool of nearly 1,800 projects.

Imamura’s project focused on using rice hulls to produce a surfactant in place of petroleum or coconut and palm seeds. With Arkansas being a large producer of rice, using the hulls leftover from rice harvests in the state could provide an economic boost to farmers and businesses while providing an environmentally friendly option.

She began her research on the topic almost two years ago during a summer internship in a Cambridge, Mass., laboratory. She decided to use that research as her Fundamentals in Research Methods project at ASMSA. Each student is required to complete a FIRM project by the second semester of their senior year for competition in the annual West Central Regional Science Fair at the school. Imamura entered her project into the science fair in February as a junior and won fourth place overall.

She said Dr. Brian Monson, chair of ASMSA’s Science Department who serves as her FIRM adviser, suggested that she enter the Siemens Competition. She had to write a scientific report and a one-page layman’s summary of her project for the competition as well as include recommendations from her research adviser, teachers, Dean of Academic Affairs Bob Gregory and her mother.

Imamura said preparing the project for the competition helped her solidify and clarify her ideas. “Revisiting certain aspects of my project helped me raise new questions on what can be improved upon for my future research,” she said.

Imamura did not advance to the regional finalist stage, but that didn’t keep her from being excited about the recognition she received.

“I think my project is cool, but it’s amazing to know that other people think so, too,” she said. “Like other students here, I put so much time into my FIRM project, and it is so cool to know that others in science consider my project worthwhile also.”