For her senior science thesis, Calhoun High School researcher Emma McNamara studied macaque monkeys to better understand the relationship between the morphology, or structure, of females’ canine teeth and their dominance in the social hierarchy of their troop. By studying teeth molds at New York University’s Anthropology Department and films of macaques in the wild, she found that females with bigger canine teeth equaled or surpassed the aggressiveness of males.
Kennedy High School researcher Joshua Pollock examined the degree to which children with autism can recognize emotions on human faces. Conducting his study at Hofstra University’s Psychology Department, he found that young people with Asperger syndrome, a linguistic disorder on the autism spectrum, can identify emotion most quickly when presented with photographs of faces, compared with “typically developed” children and those with the most severe forms of autism.
And Mepham High School researcher Corey Wald examined the effects of cloud cover on baseball. Reviewing 5,000 games — and crunching 45,000 discrete statistics –– he found that batters strike out twice as often on sunny days as they do on cloudy days.
The three, all of whom have taken part in the Central District’s Authentic Science Research Program since 10th grade, received good news last week. For their work, they were named semifinalists in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search, run by the Society for Science & the Public. They were among 300 semifinalists selected from 1,712 entrants from across the country. Semifinalists receive $1,000 scholarships. Forty finalists will be announced on Jan. 23, and invited to exhibit their projects in Washington, D.C., during a science forum on March 10.
Calhoun High School
McNamara, 17, of North Merrick, loves –– really, really loves –– anthropology, the study of human origins. Her greatest hope, after earning a doctorate in evolutionary anthropology, is to be on a dig somewhere, anywhere, in the world, delving deep into the remains of humanity’s shared past, figuring out precisely how we got here.