15-year-old investigates strength of biodiesel fuel, wins top award in science fair

Danika Dingus: Her dream is to become an astrophysicist

Danika Dingus: Her dream is to become an astrophysicist

By Julia Carreon-Lagoc

Fifteen-year old Danika Dingus, daughter of a FilAm doctor, romped away with the top prize in the Science Fair of the John Paul II Catholic School in Okatie, South Carolina on February 19.

“Feel the Burn,” the title of her experiment, succinctly answered in step-by-step procedure this question: How does the triglyceride level of the oil affect the strength of biodiesel fuel? The project measured the strength of biodiesel produced from coconut, olive, soybean, and canola oil. While first, second, and third placers were awarded to every year level, Danika garnered the top honor for the entire school.

The school congratulated all the winners for a “job well done.” It says in the school website: “Science fair is an essential part of the science curriculum for so many reasons. It helps students manage and budget their time over the course of weeks and months. It helps them continue to develop their skills of scientific inquiry. And on science fair day, it requires that they can demonstrate understanding of the concepts that they worked on throughout the science fair season.”

Danika is no stranger to school honors. A year earlier, she was among the five eighth-grade students who placed second at a state-wide Mathematics competition in Charleston.

A high school freshman, Danika finished her kindergarten years at the May River Montessori, and her elementary at Cross School, both at Bluffton, South Carolina. Consistently in the honor roll, the science-inclined girl said, “I dream to become an astrophysicist.”

Danika’s mother is Randy Raissa Lagoc, MD, from Oton, Iloilo. During her postgraduate internship at the New York Hospital Medical Center at Queens, New York, Randy Raissa was named Best Intern before becoming Chief Resident of the Department of Medicine. She is now an Internist at the Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

Danika’s father, David Raymond Dingus, CPA, is an American accountant, a mainstay at the William Cannady CPA Office in nearby Savannah, Georgia. David graduated magna cum laude in B.S. Accounting at the West Virginia State University. He holds a master’s degree in Professional Accountancy.

David and Randy settled in South Carolina to be near David’s family. Occasionally, they fly to Randy’s birthplace, for vacation and for important family affairs.

Danika is also a wide reader. She loves Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and is curious about how the seasoned actor Gregory Peck got to play the lawyer Atticus Finch in the movie.

She also dabbles in athletics. She is a member of the school’s archery team, and indulges in basketball and biking for health and fitness reasons.

The proud parents hope for a bright future for their one and only child, Danika, a lovely and intelligent merge of two races.

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