Hanford Freshman Wins Top Award At Washington State Science & Engineering Fair

Hanford Freshman Wins Top Award At Washington State Science & Engineering Fair

Nikhita Bontha is really interested in the footprint people are leaving on the planet. More specifically, the Hanford High School freshman wants to make that footprint as small as possible, so she conducted research on how to make fuel cells more efficient and available. 

Now that research has earned her gold at the recent Washington State Science & Engineering Fair (WSSEF).

Nikhita’s project, specifically “Exploiting The Physical Properties of Naflon Membranes to Fabricate Bipolar Membranes for Low Temperature Fuel Cell Application,” won the Gold Grand Medallion at the fair. The win gives her a ticket to compete at the International Science & Engineering Fair later this year. That trip is in addition to her invitation to participate in the GENIUS Olympiad at State University of New York in Oswego this summer.

Nikhita’s not resting on her laurels, though. Her next goal? Put the membranes she’s been working on in actual fuel cells and see if they perform as well as her research supports.

“I want to take it beyond proof of concept,” she says.

Fourteen other Richland School District middle and high school students joined Nikhita in earning first place in divisions ranging from Environmental Sciences to Robotics at the WSSEF.


Division First Place Winners

Hanford High

  • Afrah Aftab
  • Bontha, N.
  • Ajay Harilal
  • Daniel Li
  • Shreya Mehta

Richland High

  • Zoe Gotthold

Three Rivers HomeLink

  • Celeste Blair


  • Ashitha Chintapatla


  • John Phillip Custodio
  • Advaitha Motkuri
  • Navaj Nune
  • Louis Qin


  • Ethan Gotthold

Lewis & Clark

  • Rohan Nune

White Bluffs

  • Akshath Motkuri.