Stuyvesant’s Summer Sciences

A short look into the many types of science-focused programs and activities in which Stuyvesant students participated over the summer.

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As Stuyvesant students, we know the importance of spending our summers effectively. For many, this means participating in a program, getting a job, or taking college classes in a variety of subjects. The Science department would like to share with the student body a recap of some of the many science activities performed by Stuyvesant students over the summer. We hope this article will shed some light on just what our STEM-minded students get up to in their free time.

A popular option for rising seniors is to work in a professional research lab as part of the Regeneron Research elective course, which is taught and guided by biology teacher Dr. Jason Econome. Students search for labs by e-mailing professors and sending out resumes and cover letters, and many work nine-to-five hours for around six weeks during the summer in their target labs. Students then return to school to write a paper regarding their research and submit it to the Regeneron Science Talent Search, a nationwide competition which seeks to discover the next generation of scientific researchers in America.

Senior Christopher Shi worked at the Lukas Dow Laboratory at the Weill Cornell Medical College, focusing on new base editor variations of CRISPR/Cas9 genomes. “Adjusting to the lab environment [was] difficult because I was by far the youngest [member],” Shi said. Working in the lab was a rewarding experience for him, however, and he plans to continue his research in college. He appreciates the way his research mentors guided and pushed him throughout the summer. Shi also added that students should “be persistent in finding a lab, and even though you may get rejected, [make sure] not to take things personally.” Ultimately, the challenge of finding a lab was a worthwhile experience for this particular student.

Similarly to Shi, junior Neil Sarkar worked at an internship in a laboratory for approximately six weeks at the NYU Langone Medical Center: he studied a way to diagnose medulloblastoma brain tumors. Sarkar found the experience rewarding, as he improved both his laboratory and organization skills, but also found it intimidating at first. Additionally, Sarkar believes that he has made valuable connections through this experience. “It is important to develop a network of people for professional development and support, even at such a young age, so my lab experience has contributed to that,” Sarkar said. For students who hope to have an internship, Sarkar advises that they prepare a resume and cover letter to send to prospective laboratories.

Junior Michael Nath participated in the Summer STEM Academy at the John Jay Campus for approximately five weeks. During this program, Nath researched microRNAs for four days a week. He found this opportunity through Harvey Blumm’s opportunity bulletin and encourages others to be just as ambitious in their search for summer activities. “Go to any college’s website and send e-mails [to faculty] for opportunities,” Nath said. Though he enjoyed his experience at the academy, Nath faced some challenges: “If you’re working in a lab, you get treated like a guinea pig or lab rat. You have to run a lot of errands and wait on your PI [principal investigator] a lot,” Nath said. Nath will be continuing the program through a fall extension and is grateful for the connections he made there.

While many students pursue programs in New York City to stay close to home, some choose programs at colleges and universities outside of the city. Junior Zen Phyu participated in a week-long forensic science research program of the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. She found the program online and wanted to do the forensic science portion because of her love for crime shows. “Getting to live on a college campus was such an amazing experience,” Phyu said. “It made me learn to be independent, and I made closer friendships with the people there because of the massive amount of [time] I spent with them.” Throughout NSLC, there were several guest speakers, from crime investigators all the way to FBI agents. Phyu enjoyed the way the program incorporated lectures and hands-on activities, such as fake crime scenes and court hearings. After the program, Phyu is much more inclined to pursue forensic science in the future. She believes programs like NSLC, which expose students to real-life activities in their chosen fields, are the best way to gain exposure to a potential career.

There is a vast amount of opportunities available for Stuyvesant students to take advantage of, from research labs to college academies. All of these options allow students to explore their interests before going to college, bringing them experience and lifelong connections. Every student we interviewed agreed on one thing: the key to gaining the most rewarding experience is to remain persistent and follow your passions. We hope that after reading about some of your fellow students’ science activities, you are inspired to work toward your own.