• Veronica Sondervan, junior
  • North Springs Charter High School
Veronica Sondervan

Veronica Sondervan has always had a passion for the sciences.

“I’ve always loved science since I was a little kid,” Veronica said. “It was one of my favorite subjects in school. In kindergarten and first grade we had this after-school program called ‘Mad Science,’ where people would come and do lots of fun and interesting science experiments.”

Veronica’s passion for science has paid off. She recently was selected to be one of the few students around the world – as well as the only student from Georgia – to attend the three-day Global Youth Institute hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines, Iowa, this October.

The 16-year-old won a place in the Global Youth Institute by researching and writing a five-page paper discussing strategies to assist Indonesians in gaining more and better access to food. Delegates to the institute are able to discuss their research papers with other delegates, as well as scientific leaders.

“I am so proud of her,” said North Springs Advanced Placement environmental science teacher, Science Bowl and Science Olympiad team sponsor, Patti Lawrimore, who will accompany Veronica to the conference. “She will be presenting her paper to a team of global leaders and researchers, while interacting with Nobel and World Food Prize laureates, and participating in other planned events associated with the prize. … It’s a real honor.”

Institute participants are also eligible to apply for a free, eight-week summer internship doing research in the participant’s choice of one of many countries worldwide.

The Global Youth Institute is not Veronica’s first scientific foray.

At North Springs Charter High, Veronica is enrolled as a dual science and visual arts magnet student. She’s founder and president of the school’s computer science club, and in 2012 was awarded the Steve Fowler Emerging Scientist Award for the school’s most promising science student. After school, she volunteers at Fernbank.

In 2011, Veronica founded Potcake EARS, an international, ongoing behavioral study of the potcake dog breed from the Bahamas. The study has had nearly 400 participants so far from across the United States, Canada, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos.

“I volunteered with an animal rescue called Royal Potcake Rescue for two years. Along with rescuing cats and dogs around Atlanta, they would frequently bring stray potcake puppies from Abaco to Atlanta for adoption, and worked to set up clinics to control the overgrown stray population,” she said.

“It is difficult for potcake owners to learn about their dogs, since, unlike other dog breeds, there are no guidebooks describing them or their personalities. So I decided to research them and their behaviors so potcake owners could learn more about their pets. I think it’s nice to be able to know more about your pet and to be able to identify with other potcake owners.”

What’s Next:

Veronica hasn’t settled on a college yet, but knows she wants to do something related to science.

This article was prepared by Blake Flournoy, a student at Riverwood International Charter High School.