Merkley Helps West Salem Students Celebrate Graduation in D.C.

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley today helped four West Salem high school students celebrate their high school graduation because they will miss their graduation ceremony in Oregon this week. The students are in Washington, D.C. this week to be recognized as first place winners in the Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association Explora Vision competition. Merkley held a “mock” graduation in his Washington, D.C. office to help the high school seniors and their families celebrate their hard work throughout the last four years and recognize their amazing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) project that won them first place in this national competition.

The students came up with the idea of doing a Washington graduation with Sen. Merkley to ensure that they didn’t miss out on their graduation experience. Video of the students receiving their diplomas from Sen. Merkley will be shown at the West Salem graduation during the portion where other students walk.

“These four students have presented amazing scientific work through their ‘Quantum BioEngine,’” said Merkley. “I was honored to host their graduation here at the Capitol. It is clear that they have enormously bright futures and will make great contributions to the world.”

The four students receiving diplomas at today’s “mock” graduation are Emma Harnish, Eleanor Fadely, Anton Schuster and Cameron Johnson. All four are seniors at West Salem High School.

The students’ award winning project involved using quantum dot technology to generate energy through temperature gradients of the body. This technology has the potential to improve biomedical devices in the future. Presently, electronic medical implants such as pacemakers, defibrillators, and neurostimulators rely on batteries that require constant surgical replacement. A convenient and permanent solution will harvest the thermal energy of the human body through a simple heat engine made from quantum dots. 

A photo of today’s celebration is available on the right-hand side of the screen.