James Calano, Zahra Masih, Casandra Chen and Leora Segal

Science Research Students Succeed at Symposium

Written By: City School District of New Rochelle

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Four New Rochelle High School students earned impressive honors at the Westchester-Rockland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (WR-JSHS) held at John Jay High School in Cross River on February 4.

NRHS Science Research students Zahra Masih, Leora Segal, James Calano and Casandra Chen came back with outstanding results, explained Science Research Program Director Jeff Wuebber, demonstrating their tremendous Science Research expertise.

Senior Zahra Masih’s oral presentation, “The Regulation of Human T-Cell Cytotoxicity by Metabolic Receptor Signaling” gave her third place honors in the cellular and molecular biology category, qualifying her for the statewide competition in Albany next month.

Masih’s presentation focused on characterizing a cancerous receptor on immune cell behavior. Her research demonstrates that human immune cells have an extensive amount of variability and future changes must be made to optimize experimentation. These results are important for potential cures to cancerous inflammation.

Junior Leora Segal and her partner from Ossining High School placed first in biology with their poster titled, “Optimization of the IL-13 Cytokine and its Role in Infantile Spasms.”  Their presentation focused on optimizing the use of a specific anti-inflammatory protein and how this pathway can be used to find new treatments for a rare seizure disorder known as infantile spasms.

Senior James Calano placed third in the neurology category with his poster, “Impact of Status Epilepticus on the Cortex of Adult Rats.” His presentation focused on the condition of the neurons in response to epilepsy. While the neurons in the part of the brain concerned with long-term memory were killed in response to epilepsy, the part of the brain that controls cognitive functioning contained injured neurons rather than dead neurons. This could mean that epilepsy patients may be able recover after epilepsy damage.

Junior Casandra Chen’s research titled, “The Relationships between Gender, Age, Ethnicity, Relationship Status, and the MoVEE Subscales on Emotional Expressiveness,” focused on the manner in which people display their emotions physically or verbally and the level to which they do so. The purpose of this study was to determine how emotional expression is affected by gender, age, ethnicity, and relationship status. Future applications of this research will include the treatment of depression and anxiety.

“Our Science Research program is an opportunity for students to become experts in an area of their interest, and then work with scientists in laboratories to advance the body of scientific knowledge,” said Wuebber. “These kids have worked so hard, for so long. It’s outstanding that they are finally getting the recognition they deserve.”

Science Chairperson Rekha Liveris called the students’ commitment awe-inspiring.

“I am so pleased to have such a talented and remarkable group of Science Research students,” she added. “I am also so thankful for Jeff Wuebber’s dedication to our school and our students.”

The high school’s three-year Science Research program is offered to students who meet specific academic criteria as part of a competitive application process, which is open now.

“The vast majority of our students go to college seeking a future in the sciences,” he added. “We’re in the business of creating the scientists of tomorrow that our world needs today.”

Wuebber will take nine students – the biggest New Rochelle group yet – to the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair (WESEF) next month. A preview of their projects is available for viewing during WESEF Practice Night at New Rochelle High School on March 1.

Additionally, students interested in applying to the Science Research Program can do so via: goo.gl/suHAZv