Aaron likes playing football, basketball, tennis, and the piano. He also enjoys being a junior docent at the Institute of Texan Cultures. He's interested in a career as an attorney or forensic scientist. "I would enjoy science with a little justice on the side," Aaron says.
Aaron's project last year involved adding melatonin to the water in which he kept aquatic creatures called hydras to see if the hormone affected the animals' normal body clocks. He noticed then that heat from fluorescent lights in the hydras' enclosures killed some of the animals, but those with melatonin in their water were often unharmed. For this year's project, he hypothesized that melatonin might enhance the production of naturally produced molecules called heat shock proteins, which protect cells from heat's deleterious effects.
Aaron kept hydras in two incubators filled with water, one with melatonin and one without the hormone. He raised the temperature in each incubator a single degree every day, starting at 25°C and peaking at 37°C. He found that hydras in the melatonin water survived significantly longer and reproduced almost twice as much as those without melatonin, suggesting that the hormone has a protective effect.