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Science Students Immersed in Summer Research

Every summer, students from Seaford High School’s science research classes connect with professionals in a variety of scientific fields through college-sponsored programs, internships and other volunteer work. Although the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person research opportunities this summer, students were able to explore their curiosities through digital means.

Nine students enrolled in six different research projects, as science research teachers Janine Cupo and Mary Simons, along with consultant Richard Kurtz, helped them procure these learning experiences.

Most notably, a team of three Seaford students applied for and was accepted into NASA’s Lunar and Planetary Institute. Matthew Martorana, Kailly Nocera and Peter Weber comprise one of only 10 teams throughout the country selected for this year-long program. They spent much of the summer learning about the moon and asteroids through a variety of digital resources, and will ultimately develop a research question.

They will be connected with a mentor from NASA who, throughout the school year, will support them in the research project. Of the 10 teams, one will be chosen to go to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California to present their project. Matthew, Kailly and Peter have between one and three years of experience in the science research program.

“We found students who wanted to do this and were interested in this field,” Ms. Simons said. “These students are going to have a very interesting and unique experience that no Seaford students have ever had.”

Several other students found mentors at colleges and universities across the country including Arizona State University and Yale. Julia Gambino and Kaylee Sanderson and used and created risk assessment models to study measures that could be used to prevent disease. Marissa McCandless looked at black bear behavior to support a researcher’s study of ecotourism, while Sophia Labrador’s dived into the topic, “Pollution and Addiction using Planaria as a Model Organism.”

Rayann Ramatour, using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, explored specific historical weather data from on Long Island and in Long Island Sound. She analyzed how land and sea temperatures have changed since 1836 and the effects that has had on the local environment. Chelsea Russo used computer algorithms to look at neuroinformatics, the study of information flow and processing in the nervous system.