Through the participation in the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, the Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ), which represents fourteen sovereign academic institutions in the Garden State, enhances STEM majors’ engagements in STEM areas, maintains student retention in undergrad STEM programs, and attempts to enhance the overall academic experiences of students enrolled at its member colleges. Each year, ICFNJ invites the participation of an area high school, allowing high school students preparing to make a college decisions the opportunity to interact with undergraduates and witness the dynamic level of research being done on our state’s independent college campuses. Once more, ICFNJ invited High Tech High School to participate in the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium.
By Kevleen Plaha and Sahil Patel, High Tech High School
(Jersey City, NJ—March 6, 2017) For the third year in a row, AP Biology students from Dr. Nina Lavlinskaia’s courses at High Tech High School spent time at Governors Hall in Liberty Science Center for the Independent College Fund of New Jersey’s Undergraduate Research Symposium, announced Dr. Joseph Giammarella, Principal of High Tech High School.
Students in Dr. Lavlinskaia’s AP Biology courses had the opportunity to speak with college presenters and evaluate their research. Shelly Witham, veteran Earth and Environmental Science teacher, Dr. Dimitri Lavlinski, veteran Chemistry instuctor, and the indefatigable Joan Marie Bellotti, veteran English teacher and Language Arts liaison, also chaperoned the students at the symposium.
Mrs. Witham and Dr. Lavlinski doubled as presentation judges as well.
After a brief introduction by the President and CEO of the Independent College Fund of New Jersey, John B. Wilson, and speeches by pioneers in the STEM field, students observed and judged the college students who showcased their works. Third Place went to Monmouth University’s Sarah Falotico for her project, “Engineering of an immunogenic pre-Trans-splicing RNA (iPTR) to Block Growth and Express a Glioblastoma Specific Epitope.” Gianna C. Klucker from Caldwell University took Second Place for “Creation of a Novel Deodorant Using Essential Oils.” Finally, the top prize went to Deborah J. Balthazar and Amanda L. Surujnauth, both from Caldwell University, too, for their joint project, “What Is on Your Toothbrush? Are You Brushing with Fecal Matter? An Assessment of Toothbrush Microbial Contamination from Toilet Aerosols and Suggestions for Storage and Decontamination.”