Genetics Help

Richard Chesney KWVC59A at
Wed May 15 14:12:07 EST 1996

Dear reader,									4/10/96

	I am a 14 year old male student in the 9th grade at Upper Dublin High 
School in Dresher, Pennsylvania.  I recently competed in the Montgomery 
County Science Fair, receiving a first place in Computer Science for my 
project entitled “The Effects of a Lethal Gene Combination on a 
Population -- A Computer Simulation.”  This past week I competed in the 
Delaware Valley Regional Science Fair, which is the fair ensuing for 
first and second place winners at the Montgomery County fair.  Here I 
received a second place in Computer Science and was rather disappointed.  
This fair encompasses all of Delaware, Southeastern Pennsylvania, and New 
Jersey.  The winners of each category at each grade level are then judged 
again and the top three best of show winners are chosen.  These three 
lucky students (a total of twelve, three from each grade) attend the 
International Science Fair and the first and second place winners compete 
while third place attends as an observer.
	Upper Dublin is a top public school (in fact, we were named a blue 
ribbon school by the U. S. Department of Education this year) in the 
suburbs of Philadelphia.  We usually produce in upwards of ten Ivy 
Leaguers a year out of classes of 300.  Still, even with the 
opportunities available to me through science fair, I am unable to 
contend with the top quality projects from the select private schools at 
the Delaware Valley level.  These students have abundant amounts of help 
and access to special technology available to them.  The student whom I 
lost to in this year’s fair is one of these students.  She defeated me 
with her project entitled “Diagnosing Malignant Melanoma by Using a 
Neural Network.”
	This is where you fit into the equation.  Half of the battle to winning 
these fairs is in the choice of project.  A well done, complicated, 
extensive, and non-mainstream project is needed to win.  Being the 
ambitious and determined student that I am, I am already looking for new 
project ideas from next year.  I will take care of the well-done and 
extensive parts of the project.  I am looking for a complicated (yet easy 
enough to be done by a 10th grader) and non-mainstream idea for a project.
  I would like for  the project to be related to computers so I can stay 
in computer science and would especially like to greatly expand this 
year’s project (so if you can help me in any way with genetic simulations 
PLEASE reply).  As of today, though, any project idea would be greatly 
appreciated.  I am imploring for your aid in my plight to create the 
perfect science project.  If you have any suggestions (and do not be 
bashful), would you please e-mail them to me at KWVC59A at  If 
you cannot reach me there then please e-mail me at rchesney at
  If you have any background reference that would be of interest of me 
would you please e-mail me that file, along with the suggestion to the 
latter address.  Thank you for your cooperation.

				Gregg Chesney

P. S. - If you live in the Philadelphia area and are willing to be a 
mentor to me, please mention that in the note.  I will then return your e-
mail.  Thank you.
P. P. S. - If you would like to see my abstract (a 250 word basic 
explanation of my project) it is attached to this note below.


	My project is a computer simulation that is built to test the effect of 
a lethal gene combination on a population.  I hypothesized that there 
would be a change in the distribution of specific genes and alleles away 
from the alleles in the lethal gene combination.  After researching my 
genetics and computers and learning to program in BASIC, I began to write 
my control model.  It ran by inputting the desired total population and 
randomly chose mates, but this model did not cover every possible 
combination of alleles to be used in reproduction My first control model 
had skewed results because of a law of genetics that I missed.  The 
second model worked when I took control of the reproduction by creating a 
gene pool.  I then validated my model using the Chi-square and the 
degrees of freedom table.  In my experimental model, I randomly chose a 
lethal gene combination that automatically killed the organisms.  The 
dead organisms were counted and the data produced by the program was 
printed out.  Upon analyzing the data, I discovered my hypothesis was 
correct. My final conclusion is as follows: If a homozygous gene 
combination (RR or rr) is the lethal gene combination, it would lead to 
the eventual disappearance of that allele from the population.  On the 
other hand, if the heterozygous gene combination Rr is the lethal gene, 
it would lead to the eventual extinction of the organism's species.  
Although I was faced with the frustration of not having my first control 
work, I thoroughly enjoyed this project and look forward to expanding it 
in the years to come.

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