The Next Generation

Meet the 2024 Washington State AJAS Delegates

These eleven students were selected based on original STEM research they conducted while in high school.

The American Junior Academy of Sciences (AJAS) recognizes America’s premier high school students for outstanding scientific research. This honorific society, the only one of its kind in the U.S., is a program of the National Association of Academies of Science (NAAS). Every year WSAS nominates students to serve as AJAS delegates representing Washington State at the AJAS conference. This program is a transformational experience that both celebrates student success and encourages talented, emerging scientists to pursue careers in STEM fields.

AJAS delegates
2020 Washington State AJAS delegates at the AAAS conference in Seattle.

AJAS Conference

The AJAS conference is a multi-day event held annually at which AJAS delegates have the opportunity to:

  • Share their research with their peers and other scientists
  • Meet world-renowned scientists
  • Attend AAAS conference sessions and plenary lectures
  • Tour local institutions of scientific importance
  • Gain exposure to cutting edge technologies
  • Participate in field trips, interactive laboratory experiences, and small group meetings

At the end of the meeting, students are inducted as lifetime Fellows into the American Junior Academy of Science.

The AJAS conference is held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). NAAS is an affiliate member of AAAS, the world’s largest scientific organization and publisher of Science. AAAS serves as an authoritative source for information on the latest developments in science and bridges gaps among scientists, policymakers and the public to advance science and science education. The AAAS meeting provides additional opportunities for students to meet national scientific experts and network with a diverse community of scientists and policymakers.

The next AJAS conference will be held in Boston in February 2025. Additional details about the conference can be found on the NAAS website.

AJAS delegates at the 2023 conference in Washington D.C.


High school students who have placed highly at state or regional science fairs, and/or have been selected as finalists to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Nominations are made by the fair directors.

Selection Process

The WSAS Education Committee reviews nomination packages from select students who have been identified by science fair directors, other state competitions, and science teachers. The application package includes a research abstract and report, presentation slides, and letter of recommendation. Delegates are selected and notified in the fall.


View the original research done by Washington State delegates


There are 6 active fairs: Central Sound Regional Science and Engineering Fair (CSRSEF), Discovery Regional Science and Engineering Fair (DRSEF), Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair (EWRSEF), Junior Science & Humanities Symposium (JSHS), Mid Columbia Regional Science and Engineering Fair (MCRSEF), and the Washington State Science & Engineering Fair (WSSEF).

Science fair directors can recommend up to 2 students from each of the year’s fairs for nomination.

AJAS nominees must be in grade 9-12 in the December of the nomination year.

WSAS evaluates AJAS nominees for excellent research methods and procedures, creativity, a deep understanding of the research problem, professional presentation, original research and/or independent work, and a demonstrated commitment to science as a career. 

Students must be recommended by affiliated science fairs. Per the ISEF website: “Registration to attend the ISEF is opened in mid-February of each year and must be submitted through the director of each affiliated fair in the form of an Official Party that includes finalists (the students who did the research on the projects coming to ISEF); student observers from grades 7 through 12; an Adult in Charge to chaperone the students and act as the designated point person for the Official Party; and any other persons that fall within the Official Party size limit.”

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AJAS activities at WSAS are supported by Associate Program Officer Tristan Fehr, Operations Manager Nichole Wamsley and external expert Gary C. Foss, with additional input and oversight from the WSAS Education Committee.

About external expert Gary Foss

Gary C. Foss is a retired Technical Fellow and Test Engineer for The Boeing Company, with over 35 years of aeronautical engineering experience. Gary has a 12+ year tenure as a judge for the Regeneron International Science & Engineering Fair, is the Vice President of the Washington State Science & Engineering Fair, and Secretary of the Central Sound Regional Science & Engineering Fair. He is also an organizer of the Department of Defense sponsored Washington and Oregon Junior Science & Humanities Symposium. He currently serves as an external expert on the WSAS Education Committee, a position he has held since 2011.


Sponsors allow WSAS to offer this program to exceptional students in Washington State (see the testimonials below for the program’s impact on students). WSAS covers all expenses associated with delegates attending the AJAS and AAAS meetings, including travel, registration, meals, and lodging. Each year, WSAS attempts to cover the costs for all qualified applicants.

We are grateful to our current sponsors:

Mark Torrance Foundation Logo

Individual donations also help to support this program.

Past WA delegates have been supported by community grants from The Boeing Company, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Vulcan, and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.


AJAS has been the most formative experience in my high school years. As an aspiring researcher, getting the opportunity to learn about distinguished researchers’ paths in their fields was both incredibly inspiring and crucial to the development of my career goals. Furthermore, getting recognized for my research in dementia by fellow AJAS delegates and researchers was very important to me in both validating my research and getting critical feedback. AJAS was pivotal to me for not only the research experience it gave me but also for the talent I met from across the country. Talking to researchers in the industry solidified my goal of gaining a Ph.D. degree.


2023 Delegate

Participating in AJAS was one of the best experiences of my life. Through AJAS, I got the opportunity to attend my first large, in-person scientific conference, while gaining a wealth of support and resources even before the event to refine my research skills and knowledge…I really hope this experience will continue to be here for students for years to come!
The social aspect of this program is so important — I felt as though I was able to genuinely connect with other young scientists at a critical time for deciding my future path. I also felt connected to the ‘real world’ of science through the AAAS meeting. AJAS was an amazing opportunity for me, and part of why I’m still pursuing a career in research. I hope that every young researcher has an opportunity to participate in a program like this.
AJAS was a life-changing experience. Every part of the day was filled with exciting and unique opportunities to connect with peers, visit university labs, understand what a career in science could mean, and listen to meaningful keynote speakers. One event in particular that I really enjoyed was the Breakfast with Scientists. Getting to talk to people in the field was eye opening and made me even more confident that I want to pursue STEM in the future as a career path.


2023 Delegate


2020 Delegate


2023 Delegate