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Horizon

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

Research Students Advance to JSHS Nationals for 1st Time in Lynbrook History

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(L-R) Kathleen McAuley, Eric Reilly, and Kate Santoli. Photo Courtesy of Eric Reilly

For junior research students Kate Santoli, Katy Gottlieb, Gabriella Ramirez, and Eric Reilly, the end of February brought great news. Santoli, Gottlieb, and Ramirez were awarded fourth delegate of the Junior Science Humanities Symposium (JSHS) and won a spot at the national level of the competition while Reilly won seventh delegate and will be a second alternate at Nationals. 

The JSHS is an annual competition, with this year being the 62nd annual, and is sponsored by the Department of Defense (DoD) and administered by the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA). The JSHS competition works to elevate young minds and challenges high school students everywhere to achieve big goals and to build the skills necessary to prepare them for college and their future careers. The fair organizers are “committed to providing the mentoring, scholarship, and career pathways for young minds from everywhere to find success, growth, and connection in STEM,” as explained on JSHS’s website (JSHS.org). JSHS’s objective is to expose students to diversity of thought and promote learning that can be applied to regular studies and real life. 

The participants first had to submit their research papers to the competition. Once they advanced, the competitors attended semi-finals at York College on February 11 and finals on February 24. The Nationals vary in location each year, with this year’s competition taking place from May 1 to 4 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Out of the 163 students chosen for semi-finals, only 32 students, half from New York City and half from Long Island (Lynbrook only competed against the 16 Long Islanders) advanced to finals, and five students from the New York region will move on to Nationals. 

The semi-finals were a great experience for all, science research teacher Kathleen McAuley recalled. “Each student got to hear from many individuals in their own category and listen to about ten other project presentations from all across Long Island and NYC,” she said. “At other science fairs we don’t get to hear about other students’ research, so this is one feature of JSHS that I find to be so exciting,” McAuley added. Furthermore, McAuley related how the finals were “just as incredible as semi-finals, though in a way more inspirational. We got to hear from the top 16 science research students here on Long Island, no interruptions, and no background noise. It was impressive to see what students are accomplishing and researching across Nassau and Suffolk.” Reilly agreed, adding, “The final round was really cool because I was able to see the best projects on Long Island. Most of the projects were extremely impressive and had intriguing real-world implications.”

Santoli, Gottlieb, and Ramirez’s project in the Life and Behavior Science category entitled “The Effect of Food Deprivation on the Memory of Drosophila Melanogaster” won fourth place in the finals and will be presented by Santoli, who will represent her team at Nationals. Santoli related, “Our project works to test the flies’ memory and to compare it to when they are food deprived in order to determine any connections to humans. We used preference scores and learning index value formulas in order to analyze our data.” Reilly’s project in the Chemistry category on “Using Asymmetric Organocatalysis to Evaluate the Efficiency of Organic Catalysts in Selectively Synthesizing Target Enantiomers During Stereoselective Reactions” won seventh place in the finals, and Reilly was recognized as the second alternate to Nationals. “My project aims to implement catalysts in common medicinal reactions in order to improve their efficiency and lower production and consumer costs while making pharmaceuticals safer by minimizing the amount of potentially harmful substances in the final product,” he elucidated.

Santoli presenting her project. Photo courtesy of JSHS

At nationals, Santoli will compete against 245 people from throughout the nation for the chance to win overall. The top two regional delegates will present their research in the oral session to compete for military-sponsored undergraduate tuition scholarships; the third, fourth, and fifth regional delegates will present their research in the poster session to compete for cash awards. As mentioned on JSHS’s website, “The U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force invite the top five finalists from each Regional Symposium to the National JSHS Symposium to present their original research; expenses paid” (JSHS.org). In addition, a total of $192,000 in undergraduate tuition scholarships is presented to the top three finalists in the national research paper oral competition in each subject category. Each first-place finalist will receive $12,000, each second-place finalist will receive $8,000, and each third-place finalist will receive $4,000.

Santoli was thrilled to hear the news: “We totally did not expect to win. I can’t wait to compete at Nationals and [hear] from researchers nationwide.” Ramirez, who is looking forward to hopefully traveling to Albuquerque alongside her teammates, also expressed her excitement: “I was also shocked but so happy for Kate, Katy, and I. All our hard work has paid off; I can’t believe we got this far and are going to Albuquerque.” Reilly agreed and furthered, “It is a great honor to place seventh, especially since there were hundreds of projects that entered the competition. It’s hard to believe that my project was chosen out of hundreds to represent Long Island in a national science competition. I put a lot of work and effort into the project, and I am very happy that it paid off in such a prestigious honor.” Reilly continued, “Additionally, I am very grateful to the science research program to have given me the opportunity to achieve high levels of success in the first place.” McAuley expressed how impressed she is with her students: “Kate’s project was done here at LHS and at her home—I think this is incredible, considering her project was judged against students who worked at professional labs, some even for multiple years.[…] I could not be more proud of my students.”

Ultimately, Lynbrook is proud of these students and for all of their accomplishments. The group was recognized at the Board of Education meeting on March 13, where they each received a Lynbrook t-shirt. The girls will also be heading to Nationals in May.

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About the Contributor
Katy Gottlieb, Editor
Hi, my name is Katy Gottlieb, and I am a member of the Class of 2025. I am currently the A&E section editor for Horizon and I am also a part of the school soccer team, winter track, and lacrosse. I am a representative of student government as well as a member of Women in Stem, Varsity Club, Birthday Wishes, Key Club and a science research student.  I enjoy hanging out with my friends and writing.