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Science students advanced research projects over summer

on September 29, 2017

Seven juniors and seniors who participated in the science research summer program pose with a banner from University of Albany. The program is offered through UA.Juniors and seniors at Warwick Valley High School have access to a science research program offered through and overseen by the University of Albany.

In addition to intermediate and advanced science research courses, enrolled students can earn two college credits over the summer and jump-start their college career with hands-on, collaborative research projects, in consultation with specialized mentors.

This past summer, seven juniors and seniors seized the summer program opportunity to pursue their research interests while exposed to different environments and collaborators.   

Students reflect on their summer experience…

“Going for credit over the summer enriched my research experience. I was able to pursue my topic on a deeper level, making my love for it much larger.” —Erin Flannery.

“It was a great to be able to immerse myself in something I’m truly passionate about, and it reinforced my desire to pursue computer science.”—Jack Schenkman

“I really enjoyed working in the university lab, the collaborative environment, and being a part of a scientific research team. I also learned a lot from meeting people from very different cultures and working together around one same objective.” —Jacob Gaydos

Their research topics…  

Lauren Lepre, Junior
Mentor: Dr. Gurvinder Singh Sodhi, University of Delhi

Lauren’s research uses the chemical compound basic zinc carbonate, which can be used in a small particle reagent (SPR) suspension. SPR is a technique performed to detect latent fingerprints left on wet and moist surfaces based upon the reaction between fatty acid residuals present in the traces and hydrophobic tails of the specific reagent. Her research involves comparing two dyes that can be used to enhance SPR, crystal violet dye, and eosin b stain. Over the summer, Lauren was able to formulate the first draft of a hypothesis.

Riley Schreibeis, Junior
Mentor: Ms. Rachel Moody, NY Cornell Cooperative Extension

Riley began by studying cattle reproduction, but later changed her topic to cattle nutrition. She started researching different types of supplements, minerals, or vitamins she might possibly test on cattle. Many readily available fruits and vegetables have the minerals and vitamins that cattle need, so they are possible feeding choices. Once she narrows it down to one option, she plans to test the effect of it on the calf’s and the mother’s weight, and their wellbeing after birth.

Erin Flannery, Junior
Mentor: Dr. Emily Waide, Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ

The goal of the Seeing Eye breeding pool is to generate healthy, intelligent, diverse dogs that demonstrate their breed’s characteristics, and have good temperaments. Erin is researching three genetic diseases present within the Seeing Eye’s breeding pool: cancer, diarrhea, and dermatitis. Over the summer, she learned the statistical computing program (R Statistics) and gained access to the anonymized data tables for the Complete Blood Counts (CBCs) of about 3,000 Seeing Eye Dogs. Erin hopes to analyze these CBCs for correlations between blood levels, breed types, and genetic disease using fixed effects and linear regressions in the statistics program.

Hannah Davis, Junior
Mentor: Dr. Karla V. Ballman, Weill Cornell Medical College

As the winner of the Emperor Science Program, Hannah was able to research HER2+ breast cancer with a renowned biostatician. Her task was to analyze an original dataset  made up of women with HER2 breast cancer who were immune to the trastuzumab treatment.  Given to her by Dr. Ballman, the dataset provided information on 806 genes, whether the drug trastuzumab was administered or not, and whether or not the cancer was recurring. Hannah’s goal was to identify genes that might be indicative of the patient’s response to trastuzumab.

Lauren Fox, Junior
Mentor: Dr. Christopher Vecsey, Skidmore College

Lauren is studying cell-signaling and neurobiology in Drosophila fruit flies. This summer she had the privilege of working alongside research students who were completing undergraduate research in the laboratory. She was able to narrow her research interests down to optogenetics, a laboratory technique that allows for the control of neural circuits and pathways within the brain, using the manipulation of light-sensitive genes.

Jack Schenkman, Senior
Mentors: Mr. Bryn Dole, IBM, and Officer Calvin Li, NYPD

Jack developed a preprocessing algorithm to improve the compressibility of genomic text files, which are computer files that store DNA sequences. The output of Jack’s algorithm was used to improve the compression performance of an existing compression algorithm. The performance of the existing compression algorithm, with and without the algorithm Jack developed, were compared. Jack is currently evaluating the statistical significance of the results he obtained and exploring potential improvements to the efficiency of his algorithm.

Jacob Gaydos, Senior 
Mentor: Dr. Yossi Yovel, Tel Aviv University

Jacob’s research focused on the modulation of echolocation beam characteristic in bats, focusing primarily on beam width. The data for this research was collected during a 10-day, summer trip to Tel Aviv University. During this journey, Jacob worked alongside Dr. Yovel in his lab which studies bat echolocation and the neuroscience behind it. He was able to finish the data collection process and learn the many tools used to analyze sonar data. Jacob will continue analyzing his data and developing his research throughout the school year.

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