Oceanside student Samya Pathak achieves research milestone


Oceanside High School senior Samya Pathak has had her research published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. This milestone marks a significant step in Pathak’s budding scientific career and highlights the opportunities available to students at Oceanside High School.

Pathak’s foray into advanced scientific research began during the summer before her junior year when she joined a lab at St. John’s University. This opportunity was part of a college research course requiring 90 hours of research-related activities.

Her project focused on creating new versions of a compound called 7-aminoquinoline. These new compounds are designed to target PARP1 enzymes, which are important in repairing damaged DNA and are often overactive in cancer cells. By targeting these enzymes, Samya hopes to develop more effective cancer treatments that can induce cancer cell death.

Pathak’s research journey included presenting her work at several prestigious competitions, such as the Long Island Science Congress and the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair.

Her final presentation took place in Washington, D.C. on May 18, where she participated in a scientific conference. These experiences, coupled with her involvement in the Model UN club at the High School, honed her public speaking and presentation skills, ensuring she was well prepared for such high-level academic forums.

A significant factor in Pathak’s success was the mentorship she received from St. John’s University professor Tanaji Talele. Alongside postdoctoral and master’s students, Talele provided guidance and support, helping Pathak navigate the complexities of her research and laboratory techniques.

“Dr. Talele was very enthusiastic, and I liked the energy that the lab had,” Pathak said. “Along with that, there were also post doctoral and Master’s students who were there and showed me specifically how to do certain calculations that came with doing these reactions.”

Pathak’s passion for science was nurtured from a young age, starting with foundational science research classes in middle school.

Oceanside High School’s science programs further supported her growth, providing progressively advanced research opportunities.

“He was a really good mentor, said Pathak’s research teacher, Michael Pepe. “I communicated with them and they’re always super responsive. They spoke very highly of Samya.”

Pathak’s family also played a vital role in shaping her academic interests. Both of Samya’s parents are educators in the sciences—her mother teaches high school biology, and her father teaches biochemistry at Queens College. Their academic backgrounds and support have been instrumental in Pathak’s achievements.

“This was like my first actual lab experience,” Pathak said. “I’ve always been interested in the sciences so it was like a really good experience being in this class and getting to go into the lab and have much more hands-on project than I expected.”

Pathak’s accomplishments have not only brought pride to her school but have also set a high standard for her peers and younger students.

Her success serves as an inspiration, particularly to her younger brother, who is following in her footsteps and pursuing his interests in the sciences.

“That’s what’s cool and unique about this class,” Pepe said. “Reading those articles by those professors such as Dr. Talele, reaching out to see if they would be able to have her in their lab. They really can do their research at University working with someone who is an expert in the field with top-line equipment and then they get to take that research and apply it to the competitions as juniors and seniors the same thing. I think Samya has a very strong background, even her brother, who’s in my ninth-grade research class now, is going to continue with college research class. I think that’s part of her success.”

Looking ahead, Pathak aims to pursue a career in biotechnology. She is also considering combining her interests in science and economics by pursuing a double major in biotech and economics. She hopes an to make impactful contributions to both fields.