Marina Kazarian, Staff Writer

This past summer, students with a love for science chose to further explore their interests outside of the school by conducting labwork and hands-on scientific research.

Sophie Coste (12) explored scientific research as a part of the Rockefeller University Summer Science Research Program while studying gut bacteria and their interaction with human cells.

As part of her experience, Coste performed a number of tasks. “I helped my mentors in their research by doing most of the easier but time-consuming procedures. This was my first research experience, so they had to teach me basic research techniques and how to use complex machines, such as fluorescence microscopy imaging. With their help, I cultured bacterial and human cells so they could analyze their behavior later on,” Coste said.

At the end of the program, Coste made a poster on her findings to present to her parents and mentors.

Ari Moscona-Skolnik (12) researched ryanodine receptors, intracellular calcium ion channels in muscle cells that allow muscles to contract, at Columbia University Medical Center for the past two years.

Moscona-Skolnik has studied the calcium channel in Huntington’s disease, and found that a drug that helps stabilize this channel could help prevent the weakness of breathing associated with the disease. This past summer, he focused on understanding the role of ion channels in atrial fibrillation, the heart abnormality that is one of the major causes of stroke.

“I apply strategies from several different fields, including physics, chemistry, math, and biology. The work is different every day and is very creative, and I feel so lucky to be a part of it,” Moscona-Skolnik said.

Moscona-Skolnik is currently working on a paper about his findings related to Huntington’s disease.

Taussia Boadi (11) participated in the National Student Leadership Conference with a focus in medicine and healthcare at Harvard Medical School.

For their research project, Boadi and her group focused on how doctors show bias, especially when it comes to gender and race.

During her break, Tatiana Pavletich (12) worked at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center from late July until the end of August, focusing on how protein structures could affect pathways in the body and the onset of cancer.

Some of the tasks the work entailed were performing protein purifications, spinning cells down and separating out the liquid from the sample, and running gels, Pavletich said.

“The most exciting aspect of it was probably when all the work that we had to do paid off in the end,” Pavletich said.

Similar to Pavletich, Jakob Djibankov (12) worked at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. However, Djibankov studied prostate-specific membrane antigens, which correlate to prostate cancer metastasis.

“I chose this type of work because it’s very relevant and current… You’re working in a hospital and there are people a block away who are dying from the things that you are working on, so it’s pretty cool to potentially be working on the solution,” Djibankov said.