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For High School Students

A scientific research paper by 11th grade Jelgava State Gymnasium pupil Juta Nikiforova and supervised by Ingus Skadiņš, Vice-Dean of the Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) Faculty of Medicine and Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology and Microbiology, came in third place in the natural sciences group in Latvia. The 44th Scientific Conference of Latvian Secondary School Students was held online for the first time this year. A total of 478 most successful research papers were evaluated at the conference. Pupils submitted their presentations as video files and the jury evaluated them online.


Juta Nikiforova during the development of her scientific research paper together with Asst. Prof. Ingus Skadiņš at the RSU laboratory.

Preparing for the online conference

Initially, Juta and others who wrote research papers thought that the conference would be cancelled. However, she received an e-mail saying the event would be held online using a digital platform and that she had to prepare and submit a video presentation of her paper that would be evaluated by experts remotely. Juta admits that presenting her paper and the consequent discussions were no more difficult than the traditional form. An author should be able to talk about their research and defend it under any circumstances. 


What is Juta studying?

Juta's scientific research paper is about the spread of staphylococcus aureus bacteria among pupils. This bacterium is not as dangerous for the carriers themselves, who usually do not become sick, as for the people around them for whom this bacterium can cause diseases like pneumonia, infect wounds, or cause other severe diseases that may even be fatal.

‘The opportunity I got from RSU to work at the university's laboratory and use their equipment was an indescribable experience. I am very thankful to Assistant Professor Ingus Skadiņš. He even helped me to choose my topic. Besides, I wouldn't be able to obtain 190 samples from the other students at my school, study and describe them in such a detailed manner without his support. The supervisor of my SRP opened the door to RSU research laboratories for me and supervised the process of the development of my paper on a daily basis, I would say, step by step,' emphasised Juta.

How do you feel about coming in third?

Asst. Prof. Skadiņš considers third place to be a good achievement. He has previously given pupils consultations, but this was the first time he supervised a research paper. The biggest challenges in supervising the paper were logistical, because Juta lives in Jelgava, so the visits to RSU had to be scheduled very precisely. For example, after getting samples she had to be at the RSU laboratory on the same day, and on the following day she had to arrive to analyse the samples. Asst. Prof. Skadiņš mentions the advice he gave for selecting and analysing literature, which is a very important part of developing a research paper.

‘I heard a lot of positive feedback both from Juta herself and from my colleagues on the evaluation board, which included several RSU lecturers, concerning the remote evaluation of the papers and the online discussions that followed. Each year board members are highly qualified and make a detailed assessment of the strengths and also possible weaknesses of each submitted paper,’ says Asst. Prof. Skadiņš.

What are Juta’s future plans?

For now, Juta is in the 11th grade, but in the future she would like to study medicine at RSU. Asst. Prof. Skadiņš has plans for Juta to continue researching the spread of staphylococcus bacteria in the future.

A total of 580 pupils from 121 educational institutions presented their research. The papers were evaluated in six sections: natural sciences, humanities and the arts, social sciences, medicine and health sciences, engineering and technology, agriculture, as well as forestry and veterinary sciences.