Last weekend, Liberty Science Center closed the chapter on another amazing summer of our Partners in Science program!
Going strong for 35 years, LSC’s Partners in Science program gives hardworking and motivated high school students the opportunity to spend their summer working on research projects in professional lab settings. Rutgers University, Columbia University, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology are just a few of the universities that students get to work in each summer.
On August 21, 2021, this year’s 29 graduates presented their projects at the Science Center during the 35th Annual Partners in Science Symposium.
Before the symposium, we caught up with a few of the students to learn more about their research projects.
Aqsa Owais, from Edison, conducted her research at Stevens Institute of Technology and focused on upper-extremity rehabilitation of post-stroke patients.
For her project, Aqsa coded a version of the Fruit Ninja game in c# using the Unity software. This game will eventually be adapted to a virtual reality environment.
“Virtual reality games help facilitate the delivery of positive reinforcement, through rewards or prizes,” Aqsa explained. “This can motivate patients to continue a rehabilitation program by providing encouragement. Understanding the role of rewards in rehabilitation, this study aims to explore engagement and performance as a function of freedom of choice with rewards.”
Aqsa was one of many students who conducted their research from home this summer, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Considering the nature of my study, I was able to code everything remotely, although I would have loved to have visited Stevens in person and see all the equipment and technology used in the lab,” said Aqsa.
Aqsa also noted that by working remotely, she was able to connect with her mentor and his PhD students on a weekly basis – an opportunity she might’ve not had if the program was held in-person.
Alexander Lu, from Bridgewater, spent his summer working at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute at Rutgers.
For his research, Alexander investigated the toxic mechanisms of cadmium, a toxic heavy metal, in mice placentas. He created a protocol for blood vessel quantification and found that blood vessel areas in cadmium-treated placenta tissues were significantly reduced.
“I wanted to sign up for LSC's Partners in Science program because quality research experience in the laboratory under a mentor was an amazing offer I couldn't turn down,” Alexander said.
And yet, the experience wasn’t just rewarding because of the research.
“My favorite part was meeting all the other wonderful participants,” he said. “I loved the experience of hanging out with other peers as interested in science as I was.”
One of Alexander’s peers, Emily Soto from Union City, conducted her research at Stevens. For her project, Emily compared the performance of a Neural Network using an everyday computer to the performance of a Neural Network using a using a quantum computer.
“I think quantum computing has a long way to go before it’ll replace the computers we know today, but even the technology we have right now is extremely exciting,” Emily said.
Emily also explained why she was so excited to join the Partners in Science program.
“I’m very passionate about the sciences, but rarely get the chance to apply them practically, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Emily. “Being able to work on a higher level project while pushing my knowledge to the limit sounded like an extremely stimulating experience.”
Congratulations again to this summer’s 29 graduates! Click here to learn more about LSC’s Partners in Science program.