Five Mepham High School seniors were recently honored in the first group of 359 science students from across the country to receive Research Badges for their outstanding work in preparing reports for the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search, sponsored by the Society for Science & the Public.
The students, all three-year participants in Mepham’s Authentic Science Research Program, are Nicole Altomare, Corryn Chaimowitz, Connor Garet, Masooma Kazmi and Corey Wald.
Nicole Altomare, 17
Altomare conducted her research at Michigan State University, where she attended a summer seminar for high school science students.
She attempted to inhibit, or knock out, the expression of the PVA12 gene in the Arabidopsis plant, which looks much like an African violet, only bushier. She employed mutant bacteria in an attempt to knock out the gene.
The purpose of the experiment was to better understand the Arabidopsis’s energy cycle at the cellular level. If the cycle were better understood, it could one day lead to new biofuels that could be used as energy sources. Altomare, however, was unable to knock out the PVA12 gene.
She is a co-captain of Mepham’s nationally ranked varsity cheerleading squad, co-president of the Students Against Destructive Decisions club, treasurer of the Italian Honor Society, a peer tutor and a member of the national, math and science honor societies.
Altomare will attend Cornell University in the fall, where she plans to study biology.
Corryn Chaimowitz, 17
Chaimowitz conducted her research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, studying genetically engineered mice to determine whether it was possible to train them to move in the direction of a single smell in a field of several scents. She was studying whether a smell could stimulate a specific section of the olfactory bulb, the region of the brain that perceives smells.
Though she was unable to train the mice to seek out a single smell, Chaimowitz learned a great deal about mice studies and the scientific process, and turned in a comprehensive research report for the Intel competition.