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HHS Junior Has Research from Summer Science Program Published

Alexandra Anronikov  In early August, Howell High School’s Alexandra Anronikov spent two weeks participating in an intensive academic science program at the Rutgers University Waksman Institute in Piscataway. Alexandra, along with 35 other students from New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York, was selected to attend the ten-day 2016 Waksman Institute Summer Experience (WISE).

The students who were selected for WISE after a competitive application process learned about, and contributed to, an authentic research project in molecular biology and bioinformatics. The research project focused on DNA sequence analyses of genes from the duckweed plant, and how these genes compare to those found in other plant species and organisms. Duckweed is a plant that is of interest to the scientific community because of its use in bioremediation, and its potential use as a biofuel, according to a description for the Waksman Institute.

The daily program activities included attending science seminars conducted by university faculty, and working in a college laboratory with instruction from researchers. Experiments were conducted using modern molecular biology laboratory equipment and students analyzed the results. As a final project, students developed a poster about their investigation and defended it to invited guests that included University faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and the participants’ parents/guardians. It was recently announced that the DNA sequence analyses completed by Alexandra were suitable for publication on GenBank, an international online repository of DNA sequence data that is maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which is a part of the United States National Institutes of Health.

Susan E. Coletta, Senior Science Education Specialist at Rutgers University Waksman Institute, contacted officials at Howell High School at the end of October to announce that Alexandra’s results can now be used by practicing scientists worldwide.