Congratulations to the graduates from Liberty Science Center’s Partners in Science program, 2019!
This hardworking and motivated group of 44 high school students spent their summer vacation working on research projects throughout New Jersey and New York. They were each paired with a mentor and placed in a professional lab setting, with locations that included Rutgers University, Columbia University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Stevens Institute of Technology, and many more.
On Aug. 22, 2019, the students presented their research projects in front of a packed auditorium at Liberty Science Center, following remarks from LSC President and CEO Paul Hoffman, LSC Vice President of STEM Teaching, Learning, and Innovation Ivory Williams, and LSC Senior Director of STEM Programs Ruben Rosario.
For 33 years, LSC’s Partners in Science program – which predates even the building of the Science Center – has provided an intensive summer experience for students interested in pursuing a STEM career.
West Morris Central High School student Alec Rybarski, who spent his summer at Stevens, was excited to explore research opportunities outside of his own school.
“At my school, there’s not really the opportunity to conduct actual research,” said Rybarski. “Sure, there are high school labs, but the format here is completely different...in high school, everything’s just handed to you. You kind of know what the results are going to be.”
Rybarski, whose project was creating a prototype for a restrictive upper-limb brace for training myoelectric control with visual and tactile feedback, took home a few new skills from his summer at Stevens.
“I actually had very little CAD (computer-aided design software) experience previous to this summer, and this summer I learned how to use SolidWorks,” said Rybarski. “That was really fun because not only did I get the experience of conducting research, but I also gained a valuable skill that could be really helpful throughout college.”
Like Rybarski, Union City High School student Genesis Fernandez looked forward to new experiences outside of her classroom. During her summer at New Jersey City University, Fernandez made new professional connections and explored areas of science that were previously unknown to her.
“Going into this, I had no idea about any of the things that I’ve now learned about,” said Fernandez, whose research topic was improving the Gag-iCRE to identify drugs that block HIV entry.
“But now I definitely know a lot, and I’ve taken away that there’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to things like HIV and blocking the entry levels. There’s a lot of wait periods, and you need a lot of patience for it.”
Ultimately, every student learned something unique about the research experience.
“I learned that research is not as straightforward as it seems,” said Hunter College High School student Eda Gunal, who conducted research on individual identity recognition in mice through urine countermarking during her summer at Rutgers University Medical School.
“A lot of stuff can go wrong,” Gunal added. “And it’s not always what you expect. But that’s part of the fun of it.”
Congratulations again to this amazing group of graduates!