Conway native Neil Sash recently created a new type of fungicide that is used to protect crops from certain funguses thanks to a five-week program called the Summer Science Program (SSP).

Sash, a student at Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock, along with a group at SSP created a fungicide and enzyme inhibitor that targeted specific conserved protein chains.

“Since that part is conserved, it will probably not change as much and the enzyme inhibitor will be able to continually target it as it continues to adapting and reproducing,” Sash said.

SSP is a yearly, highly selective program that’s been around since 1959 that offers teenagers their first experience with hands-on, collaborative experimental research.

“Sash and his colleagues spent over 300 hours collecting and analyzing data in teams of three, overseen by experience researchers,” a news release from the SSP said.

The program has over 10,000 applicants from 16 counties worldwide and Sash was one of 70 teenager selected for the biochemistry division.

“I was really humbled because they typically only pick upcoming seniors and I was an upcoming junior at the time and they only pick one or two of them each year,” Sash said. “It really nice to be one of the only people in the world to get this opportunity as a rising junior.”

Sash applied for the program due to his love for science research and innovation. He’s specifically interested in the public policy side of things and bringing change to public health and trying to improve it.

“It was so much fun interacting with people who have that same love science as me and I got to sort of nerd out with them over the smallest things,” he said. “I got to feel that sense of bonding when we did something like really well and other people recognize how much hard work went into that and that was something that was really, really fun to deal with.”

Going forward, Sash wants to get more into science research and innovation. His goal is to continue research on CDC14, highly conserved family of phosphates. His goal is to try to use it to target specific cancers and Alzheimer’s.

“I kind of want to continue to help bring change to health and trying to expand it to make sure as many people as possible are able to get the healthcare access they need,” Sash said.

Jordan Wooodson can be reached at jwoodson@thecabin.net

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