The Home of Midwood Science Research

Check the calendar

Posted on Friday, March 27, 2020 by for Juniors, Seniors.

Check the calendar

Midwood Science students attend virtual (and viral) Q&A at Rockefeller University

Posted on Thursday, March 19, 2020 by for Lectures.

Just because you're stuck at home avoiding a virus doesn't mean the science stops. This morning, 13 Midwood Science students and 2 teachers remotely attended a live event at The Rockefeller University. Director of Science Outreach Jeanne Garbarino and virology graduate student Gabrielle Paniccia presented a live Q&A for about 120 participants. Topic of discussion: COVID-19 Science. Here's what our students had to say about today's event.

  • The most interesting aspect is the explanation for the reason for social isolation and how difficult it is for such a social society.
  • Viruses are really old and have been around for a long time and infect many species, even bacteria. 40% of bacteria are actually destroyed by viruses each day. Viruses technically don't live so they infect other cells and "take them over".
  • The most interesting part was getting to know how N95 masks are fitted. Health workers have to test if they can taste artificial sweeteners in the air to see if things can still leak through.
  • Do you think that playing outside with your neighbor children is not a good activity during this time and also, is it reasonable for schools to open again on April 20th?
  • The virus's genetic material is RNA and it can be easily degraded. Therefore, the procedure to stabilize the RNA is complicated. This is why the testing kits are currently limited.

Was your brain as engaged as ours were at 11:00 AM on a Thursday morning?

Promotional image Someone's home office

Almedina Mulic is a finalist at the 2020 NYC Metro JSHS, Tanisa Rahman wins 2nd in chemistry

Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2020 by for Awards, JSHS.

JSHS logo

The NYC Metro Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) only accepted about 120 projects citywide for this year's competition. On Sunday, February 8, 2020, 6 Midwood students made it to the semifinals round. Almedina Mulic was declared first place in environmental science and a finalist overall. Tanisa Rahman received second place in chemistry. 4 additional Midwood students were declared semifinalists. Wish Almedina good luck as she prepares for the finals round in one week. Send congrats to all 6 of our winners. JSHS set a high bar that these 6 students deftly surmounted.

Finalist and first place in environmental science

  • Almedina Mulic (environmental science)
    Project: Do Geukensia demissa change how they feed in the presence of predators?
    Mentor: Dr. J. Stephen Gosnell, Department of Environmental Science, Baruch College

Semifinalist and second place in chemistry

  • Tanisa Rahman (chemistry)
    Project: Novel method of cycloaddition of cyclooctyne and trapping with a vinylketene complex and other cycloaddition reactions using benzyne precursors
    Mentor: Dr. Wayne F.K. Schnatter, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Long Island University


  • Ashley Chin (behavioral science)
    Project: How does body awareness and parental bonding differ among black and non-black young adults?
    Mentor: Dr. Sara Chiara Haden, Department of Psychology, Long Island University
  • Henry Hua (environmental science)
    Project: Food consumption rates of Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis (green sea urchin) in a high CO2, low pH environment
    Mentor: Dr. Kestrel Perez, Department of Biology, St. Joseph's College
  • Jasmine Huang (behavioral science)
    Project: Effects of reversed Pavlovian learning in differentiating sex
    Mentor: Dr. Andrew Delamater, Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College
  • Mariyum Jahan (behavioral science)
    Project: Male and female fiddler crabs prefer to group with members of the opposite sex
    Mentor: Dr. Frank Grasso, Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College

Finalist Almedina Mulic
Finalist Almedina Mulic

All 6 semifinalists
All 6 semifinalists plus one teacher

Tristan Ene and Nadzeya Fliaha win first place awards at 2020 St. Joseph’s College High School Poster Session

Posted on Saturday, February 1, 2020 by for Awards, St. Joseph's.

St. Joseph's College coat of arms

Saturday, February 1, 2020 was the 24th Annual Research Poster Session for High School Students at St. Joseph's College New York. This event is open to all high school students in any field of scientific research and is sponsored by the Chemical Education Committee of the New York Section of the American Chemical Society. Midwood Science students collected most of the awards this year — 2 first place awards, 1 second place award, and 7 honorable mentions. Brooklyn's Edward R. Murrow High School won the other second place award. Hudson County, New Jersey's Jose Marti STEM Academy and High Tech High School won 3 and 2 honorable mentions, respectively. Congratulations all around.

First Place

  • Tristan Ene
    Project: The effectiveness of DEP water quality testing in Jamaica Bay
    Mentor: Dr. Brett Branco, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Brooklyn College
  • Nadzeya Fliaha
    Project: Probing the meta-magnetic order using magnetocaloric data and data analysis
    Mentor: Dr. Karl Sandeman, Department of Physics, Brooklyn College

Second Place

  • Anum Jabeen
    Project: Deep sequencing anemone mitogenomes: Understanding evolutionary relationships
    Mentor: Dr. Mercer Brugler, Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History

Honorable Mention

  • Naffisat Atanda and Serena Duran
    Project: The relationship between academic performance and social anxiety in college students
    Mentor: Dr. Laura Egan, Department of Psychology, St. Francis College
  • Oliwia Dankiw and Blessin McFarlane
    Project: Need for speed: Decomposition rates of conventional plastics versus bioplastics
    Mentor: Dr. Zhongqi (Joshua) Cheng, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Brooklyn College
  • Daniel Drozdov and Victoria Habbchy
    Project: Expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and production of nitric oxide (NO) by human monocytes after freezing and storage
    Mentor: Dr. Maja Nowakowski, Department of Pathology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Kelly Guan and Jessica Zheng
    Project: Analyzing the effects of media multitasking on academic performance for disordered and non-disordered adolescents
    Mentor: Dr. Sung Hun Kim, Department of Psychology, St. Francis College
  • Lameya Rahman
    Project: Effect of iron on Neisseria gonorrhea's Type IV pili (TFp)
    Mentor: Dr. Nicolas Biais, Department of Biology, Brooklyn College
  • Defne Sener
    Project: Biofuels from brown grease
    Mentor: Dr. Lawrence Pratt, Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science, Medgar Evers College
  • Gabriella Shalumov
    Project: The effect of naturalistic visual stimuli on axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) motor behavior
    Mentor: Dr. Frank Grasso, Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College
Student standing beside their posterboard Student standing beside their posterboard Student standing beside their posterboard
Group photo
Students standing beside their posterboard Students standing beside their posterboard Students standing beside their posterboard
Students standing beside their posterboard Student standing beside their posterboard Student standing beside their posterboard

New teacher assignments

Posted on Friday, January 31, 2020 by for Juniors, Seniors.

Midwood Science Research Spring 2020 Last updated Friday, February 7, 2020
Elert Juniors Katzoff Juniors Mosley Juniors
Mohinur Abdullaeva Sarah Akram Suzayet Hoque
Fariha Ahmed Jason Calangi Xinyi Huang
Muskan Ali Emily Chen Shehan Hussain
Lyna Ammi Ivy Chen Zainab Ishfaq
Zilola Ashurboyeva Treazure Da Breo Ilana Kolomiyets
Tinnie Chen Nitu Farhin Nicole Kravets
Maham Ghori Victoria Garcia Rachel Malinkovich
Nichole Gutierrez Judy Huang Marlen Mendieta-Camaron
Jenny He Aya Ibrahim Monica Mesiha
Tamari Kvaratskhelia Aliyeh Khan Tiffany Ng Li
Edward Li Malayka Mudassar Hassan Rizwan
Sonya Liang Victoria Tatarynova Oscar Rojas Perez
Hong Bin Pan Jaden Thomas Kirsten Shyu
Tasnia Shadat Jacklyn Vu Samiha Uddin
Tahreem Sittar Madelynn Yung  
Nelly Zhang    
Amanda Zhou    
Elert Seniors Katzoff Seniors Mosley Seniors
Ihtsham Chaudhry Ashley Chin Naffisat Atanda
Hong Wei Chen Daniel Drozdov Serena Duran
Oliwia Dankiw Kelly Guan Tristan Ene
Nadzeya Fliaha Victoria Habbchy Gloria Glenn
Tanzena Haque Jasmine Huang Idrees Ilahi
Henry Hua Anum Jabeen Emily Ly
Mariyum Jahan Suraiya Khoja Tanisa Rahman
Alyssa Kattan Jessica Lin Defne Sener
Esther Lee Noor Mohammad  
Blessin Mcfarlane Lameya Rahman  
Almedina Mulic Stella Ruan  
Kevin Ng Jessica Zheng  
Tiffany Ngo    
Gabriella Shalumov    
Meghan Stern    

10 questions: In conversation with Tristan Ene

Posted on Thursday, December 26, 2019 by for Public Affairs.

Who do you work for and where?

I work for Dr. Brett Branco in the Aquatic Research and Environmental Assessment Center (AREAC), an environmental science lab in Brooklyn College.

How did you find your lab and what drew you to it?

I found this lab while searching for ones that would fit my interest in marine science. I was drawn in because of Dr. Branco’s extensive experience in the field. In addition, his lab focused on the issues facing Jamaica Bay, an area that I am familiar with because of its close proximity to my home.

What do you research?

My research mostly focused on the water quality of Shell Bank Creek, an undersampled tributary of Jamaica Bay and the effectiveness of the NYC DEP’s testing methods throughout the bay. The project revolved around using an instrument called the YSI probe, which was able to measure dissolved oxygen, salinity, pH, and temperature at different depths. I took measurements of each of these 4 conditions every 3 hours, from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM over the course of a day at depth increments of 0.5 m, starting from the surface and ending at the very bottom. In addition, I aided in a water quality research project that took place in Prospect Park Lake about harmful algal blooms.

Probe cables Probe display Probe sensors
Instrument used for water testing that measures dissolved oxygen, salinity, temperature, and pH

What are the real world applications of your research?

In conducting this research I hope to shed light on the importance of testing in Shell Bank Creek as a tributary and the overall ineffectiveness of the DEP’s testing methods. As of now, the DEP mainly conducts water quality tests every two weeks at stations distributed across the bay. However, my project has shown that conditions such as dissolved oxygen, pH, and salinity vary significantly throughout the day and across different days. Therefore, the DEP’s water quality data does not provide a comprehensive look into the conditions in the bay due to the fact that water quality conditions are highly variable, even over the course of a single day.

How would you describe your lab environment?

Although I did not spend a lot of time in the lab due to the nature of my project, I always received ample support and help from those around me. Our laboratory had a high amount of traffic over the summer because of the many projects that were taking place at once, but there were always people willing to drop what they were doing to assist you if you needed it.

What are the best and worst/most difficult parts of conducting your research?

The best part of conducting my research was also the most difficult. Most of my research took place outside of the laboratory itself, in Shell Bank Creek. This particular tributary is important to me because I lived near it my entire life and I’ve witnessed firsthand the issues that have been facing it, such as the large amounts of plastic pollution. I was eager to learn more about the health of the tributary, especially when I learned how undersampled it was by the DEP. Working in the field was also the most difficult, however, because if the equipment I was using did not work properly I was miles away from the laboratory and I would have to begin sampling again the next day. Luckily this did not frequently occur, but it held up my project whenever it did.

Shell Bank Creek

What do you do when you get stuck or face a problem in your research?

Whenever I faced a problem in my research I always had direct contact with the lab manager and PhD student, Majid Sahin. He helped save my project more times than I can count.

Have you gained any interesting skills since starting work at your lab?

While working at the lab I learned a lot about communication and data analysis. Communication was especially important during my project, as the few processes that took place within AREAC itself (such as chlorophyll a testing) required many people working in tandem towards the same goal. In terms of data analysis, I learned how to turn an entire month of water quality data to a more understandable form, and explain why water quality conditions appeared as they did.

In your opinion, what qualities make for a good researcher? What skills do you have, or had to develop, that contribute to successful work?

Perseverance is an important quality for anyone looking to conduct research. In all, I emailed about 20 professors before I received a response back from a professor who was interested in taking me in as a mentor. It was worth it as Dr. Branco was highly experienced and helped me significantly in learning about environmental science research. Perseverance also prevented me from getting discouraged when I faced obstacles during my project and helped me to overcome many setbacks.

Are you ready for NYCSEF?!

I’m ready and excited to share my work at NYCSEF!

Interview by Alyssa Kattan (Class of 2020)

NYCSEF 2020 Delivery Day

Posted on Friday, December 13, 2019 by for NYCSEF.

30 completed applications are on their way to the New York City Science and Engineering Fair (NYCSEF) offices in downtown Brooklyn. Thank you students, teachers, and mentors for all your hard work.

Student carrying large envelopes toward a door

NYCSEF will be held this year at CitiField on Sunday, March 8, 2020. Wish our students good luck whenever and wherever you see them.

An interview with Midwood’s Math Team: Cooler than just calculus

Posted on Monday, December 2, 2019 by for Public Affairs.

If you think you need to be great at math to join the Math Team, think again. At Midwood High School, being on the Math Team is much more than rapidly calculating limits and derivatives — it’s a community, a think tank, and a great place to meet new people.

Team Captain Joel Rakhamim ’20 describes the environment as "Friendly, casual, and welcoming to new members". According to Rakhamim, "The main purpose is to enjoy what we’re doing and have fun with math. We try to look at math outside of the conventional ways. In our meetings, we work on different types of challenging problems or riddles together and then discuss different ways to do them".

One of the most popular reasons members have joined seems to be a desire to expand the bounds of their problem-solving abilities. Jeremy Maniago ’20 comments on his intrigue, claiming "I got involved with Math Team because I sought different approaches to different kinds of problems", with Gary Tran ’20 adding "I joined Math Team to hopefully improve my problem-solving skills and extend my knowledge of math in general".

While it’s typical to assume math as an independent activity, members attest the opposite: collaboration is crucial to their success.

Rakhamim explains "Normally, Mr. Peterson (our spiritual leader and motivator) starts by giving us a few problems to work on in groups, and we try to get the solutions as a team. Afterward, we all come together and go through each problem, noting different strategies". Teammate Jason Mai ’20 also notes "Being on the team helps you to come out of your shell a little bit, because you have to work together to achieve the common goal". From this, it’s evident that sharing ideas and thought processes is an integral part of the Math Team, because it ultimately makes them all better mathematicians.

Speaking of "Coming out of your shell", though, one of the most compelling aspects of joining is that not only can you bounce off of each other’s ideas, but those of new people as well.

Erin Ho ’20 shares "Last year I participated in two competitions and honestly, it was a lot of fun. I was placed on a team full of people I didn’t know, and being stuck with them for hours was interesting. It was fun seeing how other people’s brains worked". Mai adds, "You get to meet new people while prepping for competition; last year I played on a team that matched with someone from another school and it was pretty cool and fun to come together to work on math".

If you’re thinking of joining the Math Team, consider the following advice from Captain Joel: "I think anyone who is genuinely interested in math should join, regardless of their previous grades. A respectful person with a drive to learn and to help others learn would be a good teammate because they are, by virtue, committed, hardworking, and always willing to help out. It is also important to be able to have a rational, civil discussion since disagreements are inevitable".

In case you’re still not convinced, Rakhamim adds "Coach Peterson is divine".

Alyssa Kattan (Class of 2020)

Student Spotlight: Tanisa Rahman

Posted on Monday, November 25, 2019 by for Public Affairs.

Tanisa Rahman ’20 summed up her first day in Professor Wayne Schnatter’s organic chemistry lab at Long Island University in one word: "HOT".

"It was an incredibly hot summer day, I was sweating profusely but otherwise well-prepared to meet Professor Schnatter for the first time. I had my bright pink sneakers on and a Snapple in hand as I attempted to remember the route. I got lost a few times. Disgruntled and sweaty, I managed to arrive on time — but I wasn’t early like I expected to be — I was, however, very anxious".

Rahman’s nerves didn’t last long though, soon swelling into pulses of excitement at the prospect of the research that lay ahead of her.

"I started looking around and eventually found two Midwood seniors (now graduated) working in the lab. I was excited, and knowing that they loved the lab enough to invest their time during the summer was relieving; but far more relieving was the fact that there was AC in the NMR room!"

Tanisa Rahman working at the fume hood
Rahman working at the fume hood, Long Island University, Brooklyn, New York

While months have passed since Rahman’s first days at Schnatter’s lab, her ardor has only grown more concentrated with time. "[Schnatter] has been a wonderful mentor that has nurtured my love for organic chemistry, my respect for technology like NMR, and even simple equipment like a gas tight syringe," she says of her Professor.

Such an affinity would not be possible, however, without a genuine appreciation for the work to be done. Rahman summarizes the focus of her lab, claiming "Our research is dedicated to creating complexes called vinylketenes with an attached Fe(CO)3 group which is supposed to be opened during a cycloaddition reaction and act as a trapping agent when successful. My project consists of trapping the reaction intermediate benzyne using the vinylketene 3-phenyl-2-ethoxy".

Rahman simplifies matters with some real-world relevance, explaining how her work creates a means to more closely study benzynes, compounds with "A wide application in organic synthesis, for example, in the generation of antioxidants like aporphine, anti-cancer therapies like ellipticine, and the psychedelic drug, lysergic acid".

Tanisa Rahman's workstation
Rahman’s workstation, Long Island University, Brooklyn, New York

According to Tanisa, a typical work day goes as follows:

"I’m usually the first one in the lab. I unlock the lab doors, turn on the lights, and activate the stills for anyone who needs freshly distilled solvent for a reaction that day and get the vacuum pump going by pouring nitrogen into the trap. I get my gloves on and take out any compounds/samples from the freezer that need to be brought down to room temperature for reactions that day.

"In terms of actual experimentation, the week is usually outlined like this: Prep a reaction, purify the reaction product (via separatory funnel filtration or flash column chromatography) and get NMR data — which can take a very long time considering the age of our NMR technology".

As implied, every lab has its kinks, it’s just a matter of how you work around them. For Rahman, "The biggest struggle is that our technology is also really old. The NMR we use is from the nineties, and it’s missing autoshim, which is a setting on most new NMR machines; so it always takes a while to get the system rolling".

Be that as it may, Rahman feels incredibly fortunate to be conducting research in such an inspiring place. "I’ve just met so many awesome people here; they’re all like-minded, but very different from the people I engage with at school, so it’s a good environment to switch into," she expressed.

Perhaps most integral to Rahman’s success is the attitude adopted by her and all of her colleagues towards their work: "Rarely do we ever give up on an experiment or disregard our efforts. Schnatter’s been at this for 20+ years; I don’t see him stopping any time soon and I don’t see myself stopping this research either".

Alyssa Kattan (Class of 2020)

NYCSEF 2020 Signature Pages

Posted on Sunday, November 24, 2019 by for Juniors, NYCSEF, Seniors.

NYCSEF Signature Page

Seniors (and a few juniors), I need your NYCSEF signature pages on or before Monday, December 2, 2019 so the Principal and I can sign them. Please print the Principal’s name (Michael McDonnell) for him, but do not sign or date the form (obviously). Please do the same for my name (Glenn Elert). I will sign part b as the Science/Research Teacher for all seniors. The rest of the paperwork along with a complete research paper must be ready by Wednesday, December 11, 2019. All photocopying will be done at this time. Do not make any copies before this date.

Ocean Science Team takes down Stuyvesant at Science Bowl Invitationals

Posted on Friday, November 15, 2019 by for Ocean Science, Public Affairs.

On Saturday, October 19th 2019, Hunter College High School opened its doors to some of the city’s brightest students for day of academic dueling in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Midwood’s Ocean Science Team — invited to the closed competition on account of their performance at the annual Hunter-hosted New York Regional Science Bowl — arrived ready to play. With students from the Ocean Science class in tow, Midwood was divided into three separate teams of five; an A, B, and C team, each selected by coach/teacher Mrs. Kimberly Lau for an optimal balance of knowledge and skill.

Group photo
Midwood High School’s Ocean Science students (pictured left to right: Coach Lau, Maham Ghori, Alex Ihnatenko, Emily Chu, Lucie Lim, Aryan Islam, Declan Lin, Idrees Ilahi, Anthony Yang, Alyssa Kattan, Jennifer Yakubov, Angela Jiang, Kimberly Nguyen, Lindy Nguyen, Kevin Ahrens, Mr. Elert, Vina Weng, Henry Hua, Hang Chen, and Kevin Ng.

The teams were each a combination of the older, more veteran members of Ocean Science and younger, newer competitors. "It’s always nice to see our upperclassman supporting and encouraging our underclassman to bring out the best in young minds", Coach Lau comments.

Regardless of age however, Midwood fared very well. The day started off on a high note, with our A-Team beating Stuyvesant High School’s A-team by a 20-point lead in the first round of competition. In the final round, Stuyvesant A was defeated again, only this time by Midwood B.

Although the Ocean Science team specializes in — well — ocean science, the breadth of APs taken between them all throughout the years has deftly prepared them for the competition material. Be this as it may, a surge of excitement is still felt throughout the room at the lightening-speed of their buzzers whenever the moderator opens with "Category: Marine Biology".

Other schools in the competition included Trinity High School and of course Hunter, both of which also had A, B and C teams. B-Team Captain, Jennifer Yakubov ’20 says "Invitationals was a great opportunity to meet new people. At a competition like this, not only is there time to play and have fun, but also to see how other schools from around NYC compete, and use the insight to get better for the future".

Speaking of fun, the best part of city competitions always takes place after the final buzzer sounds. As per the team’s tradition, Science Bowls at Hunter are followed by a mandatory Shake Shack dinner. So, after a long day’s work with hands tired from buzzing, five separate tables were soon dragged together to seat the group of 19. Burgers eaten and fries consumed, the Midwood Ocean Science Team raised their milkshakes to yet another great competition over.

Alyssa Kattan (Class of 2020)

Student Spotlight: Idrees Ilahi

Posted on Monday, November 4, 2019 by for Public Affairs.

Typically, when the time comes to start searching for labs, Midwood Science Research students will gravitate towards a workplace within the bounds of their academic comfort zones — but not senior Idrees Ilahi.

Having studied chemistry for two consecutive years at Midwood, Ilahi decided it was time to venture into something completely new: microbiology.

With a position secured in Dr. Bruce Cronstein's biochemistry and molecular pharmacology lab at NYU Langone Medical Center, Ilahi set to work on his research in the summer of 2019.

"I research the role of PKA and EPAC2 proteins in the cAMP second messenger system, which is a system that converts extracellular signals into intracellular processes. These signals activate a wide array of proteins (including PKA and EPAC2) so that they may aid in many important physiological activities. Specifically, we focus on the role of PKA and EPAC2 proteins in osteoblasts, which are cells that form bones," he explains.

Ilahi holding of a sample of his osteoblast cells
Ilahi holding of a sample of his osteoblast cells at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, New York

Although an evidently rigorous project, Ilahi handled the adjustment with competency and finesse. "The first thing I realized was that almost all of my project depended on how hard I worked, seeing as that I was really the one in control of what I was doing. This forced me to be more independent, and set my own goals," he says.

One of these goals, aside from educating himself on microbiology through independent research, was to understand the importance of his project in the real world. Ilahi shares, "In a nutshell, we're working to help develop a cure for osteoporosis; it's a disease that affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing the degradation of bones over time. We're trying to better understand the role of proteins PKA and EPAC2 within osteoblasts, so that we can figure out how to successfully combat the disease".

Such an undertaking requires the use of very sophisticated research methods, many of which Ilahi has become experienced with. "I've learned how to do bone decalcification (which is basically just bone-softening so that they can be sliced), polymerase chain reactions (PCR) and gel electrophoresis, which is the stretching of DNA for further examination," he revealed.

Dr. Bruce Cronstein's biochemistry and pharmacology laboratory
Dr. Bruce Cronstein's biochemistry and pharmacology laboratory at NYU Langone Medical Center

On a separate but equally as intriguing note, Ilahi describes his lab environment as "Very homey… if that makes sense". He claims that with the messiness of everybody's projects going on at once, it feels like family, in the sense that it reminds him of how no one (not even the professionals) are trying to be perfect.

According to Ilahi, the best part of his job is "Finally achieving success after repeatedly failing," which is an innate part of the research process. To triumph through the many hurdles of such a complicated project, Ilahi recommends a strong spirit of patience and self-motivation. "I think trying to not get discouraged when things don't work out is the most challenging part of the whole thing," he adds, "but if you dedicate your all to it, and choose to work on something that you enjoy, it will always be worth it in the end".

Alyssa Kattan (Class of 2020)

2019 Major Trends in Modern Cancer Research

Posted on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 by for Extra Credit, Lectures.

Add to Calendar

On Wednesday, November 13, 2019, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center will host its fourteenth annual Major Trends in Modern Cancer Research lecture for high school and college students. (Members of the public are also welcome to attend.) The event will take place from 5:30–7:30 PM on the first floor of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Rockefeller Research Laboratories building (430 East 67th Street, between York and First Avenues).

Registration is preferred for this free event. Get there a bit early if possible to get a good seat. Pizza and refreshments will be served before the lecture begins. Single use MetroCards will be made available for any student who needs one to attend.

One point of extra credit will be awarded to all students who attend and complete this assignment for any one of the speakers. (Consult the Extra Credit web page for more info.) Official attendance is taken by group photo at the end of the event. Submit your completed (typed) assignment to Mr. Elert’s Research Room mailbox by Friday, November 15.



Memorial Sloan Kettering President Craig B. Thompson studies molecular signaling pathways that regulate nutrient uptake and the role these pathways play in the regulation of cell growth and survival.


Seeking order in genomic chaos: how chromosomal instability shapes cancer evolution

Radiation oncologist Samuel F. Bakhoum is working to understand more about how cancer grows and spreads.


Metabolic Regulation of Cell Fate Decisions

Cell biologist Lydia Finley investigates how cellular metabolic pathways regulate cell fate decisions in stem cells and cancer cells.


Immunotherapy for Patients with Lung Cancer

Medical oncologist Matthew D. Hellmann’s research focuses on developing innovative and effective ways to harness the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

Sophomores Generate Surprises at Science Fair

Posted on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 by for Media, Science Fair.

Over 100 sophomore research students competed in the annual science fair back in May 2019. The students showcased their findings in front of about 130 judges made up of junior and senior research students, alumni, and Midwood teachers.

The year's first place winners included Nicole Gutierrez '21, Tiffany Ng '21, and Jacklyn Vu '21. Second place winners included Aliyeh Khan '21, Nitu Farhin '21 and Malayka Mudassar '21, and Jessica Serheyeva '21. Lastly, third place went to Ivy Chen '21 and Emily Chen '21, and Walter Rosales '21.

During the science fair, students put up big tri-fold posters outlining their whole experiment. The students waited and presented their work to the judges assigned to them.

"I am incredibly proud seeing how confident the students were in their work while talking to strangers," said Ms. Shaniece Mosley, one of the science research teachers. "It was an amazing experience."

Dr. Stephan Riemersma, one of the science fair judges, said, "They have to be ready to handle questions that they are not ready for, which is a part of the criteria on the rubric."

Traditional photo of the award winner holding their trophy standing in front of their poster board
Nicole Gutierrez '21 researched worm regeneration.

Gutierrez was one of the first place winners of the science fair. Her research dealt with planarian worm regeneration with respect to different magnetic fields. She had three worms in each dish with three magnets under six of the nine petri dishes.

However, science has unexpected challenges. One of Gutierrez's worms was a carnivore, so it ate the other worms in the same dish and messed up her data. In addition, halfway through the experiment, there was a change in the measuring device used.

Still, the results showed that worms had a higher chance of dying when placed in a higher magnetic field, whereas weaker fields prompted radical repair regeneration, thus allowing worm regeneration.

"It was rewarding because you were able to conduct your own experiment," said Gutierrez. "Throughout the entire year, we had to read research papers made by professors. Now we got to conduct experiments and come up with results like those professors."

Similarly, Mr. Glenn Elert, the science research coordinator of the event, said, "[The science fair] allows students to actually do science. In regular science classes, they just learn about traditional scientific methods, facts, and techniques, but you never really do actual science."

Aliyeh Khan '21 was one of the second place winners. Her research focused on the impact of gene expression on the effectiveness of transcription factors. In other words, she analyzed the DNA from the heart and compared it to other organs to see if those transcription factors can be useful in programming.

"Thirty-three percent of all deaths are from cardiovascular disease, which can be solved through regenerative medicine," said Khan. "Body cells can be used as heart cells, which can save a lot of money."

In a way, the science fair allowed students to find solutions to problems that could work to benefit society, while learning to deal with the obstacles that come with getting there.

"Science is a process, but also a way of life," said Mosley. "Things don't always work the way you want, but the important thing is to keep going."

Written by Tiffany Ngo and Sharon Wong (Class of 2020)
This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Argus.

Student Spotlight: Kevin Ng and Hong Wei Chen

Posted on Monday, October 21, 2019 by for Public Affairs.

If you ask Kevin Ng '20, he'll tell you that the most important quality a good researcher can have is grit, and inquisitivity. Ask Hong Wei Chen '20, and he'll say determination—plus enough stamina to plow through stacks and stacks of research papers.

Perhaps it's best not to settle for just one quality, though, because a demonstrated combination of all of the above has fared this pair of seniors quite well. Ng and Chen started working for Dr. Sophia N. Suarez of Brooklyn College's physics department midway through their junior year of high school. The team of two has since made a place for themselves as electrochemists amidst the bustle of physical and chemical engineering taking place in Suarez's laboratory.

"We're trying to create an air-tight electrochemical cell that will be used to house a sample of electrolytes, so we can run voltammetry tests and NMR on it," said Ng.

Hong Wei elaborates further on the purpose of such work, explaining "Now that we rely so heavily on electronic devices, building this cell allows us to study the characteristics of the batteries that run them — it's a low-cost device that measures charging and discharging properties of electrolytes (which power batteries) such as current measurement."

Kevin Ng demonstrating the safe handling of chemicals in a glove box, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, New York
Photograph Photograph

If that sounds complicated, it's because it is. "Our professor gave us two choices when it came time to pick our project: the easy route, or the hard route; we chose the hard route," Ng revealed. But the duo handles it well, attributing most of their understanding to disciplined independent research and previous years of AP classes.

"Whenever we get stuck, we try to find our own answers using the internet, reading textbooks in lab, and combing through research papers," Chen said. Ng added, "AP Physics C prepared me for this project by teaching me about mechanics, and how the amount of torque applied in our design affects pressure within our cell."

Nevertheless, no amount of preparation can save a researcher from the perils of, well, research. Ng and Chen shared that despite their incredible investment into the original model of their cell, unforeseen expenses forced them to start over with a completely new design. "We didn't expect a little rubber piece to cost over $200, making our original cell too expensive to build. So, we had to revise our design to not include that part, which pushed us to tap into our creative skills," said Ng.

Yet, creativity is far from the only thing the gentlemen exercised in order to meet their success. "We learned how to think like engineers, which involves a lot of trial and error," Ng said. Chen adds, "We also learned how to properly time-manage, and some useful data collection skills."

For those considering research, Ng offers "If you're interested in electrochemical engineering, this is a good lab for you. However, you will be mostly independent, making it a challenging environment". Chen agrees, claiming "There really isn't anyone watching over your shoulder, so you can manage your time how you want — although it's crucial to be smart about it."

Ng and Chen finished their junior year strong with a presentation at Brooklyn College Science Day in May, following their defeat of the multiple obstacles riddling their research. The team remains enthusiastic as they work through the homestretch before NYCSEF in March of 2020.

Alyssa Kattan (Class of 2020)

Student Spotlight: Henry Hua

Posted on Monday, October 7, 2019 by for Public Affairs.

With plans for a career in marine biology, joining Dr. Kestrel Perez of St. Joseph's College in her work with green sea urchins was a no-brainer for Henry Hua '20.

Even so, the opportunity didn't exactly fall into his lap. Early into his junior year, Hua set out to find a lab that could aptly merge his enthusiasm for research with his love of the ocean.

"The mystery of the ocean is so intriguing because we know so little about it," said Hua. Specifically, it's the "Human-caused issues and their effect on marine organisms" that fuels his interest. But why bother? According to Hua, there are so many endangered species struggling to survive in the ocean, that we need to start looking for ways to help them. "I want to know what we can do about this," he said.

Hua is certainly making a dent, digging deep into major issues like ocean acidification through his work in Dr. Perez's marine biology lab.

A lab in St. Joseph's College
Dr. Kestrel Perez's marine biology laboratory at St. Joseph's College, Brooklyn, New York

In the lab, Hua studies the effect of ocean acidification on green sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis). The primary focus of his research is to monitor their food consumption, and correlate his observations with the impact of decreasing pH on eating habits.

In a tank with conditions meant to mimic that of the acidifying ocean, Hua claims that he typically observes one of two trends: "Either the sea urchins will eat more than usual because they're trying to acquire as much nutrients as possible while they still can, or they'll eat far less than usual because they want to save energy by not processing food".

Such research explains how environmental pressures can trigger fluctuations in certain species' eating habits that have the potential to disrupt entire food webs, and thus ecosystems (a concept referred to as a positive feedback loop).

Inherent to Hua's understanding of his work and it's in-situ repercussions is his involvement with Midwood's Ocean Science Team.

For two years, Hua's been apart of the academic group that closely studies the ocean, for competition at the Bay Scallop Regional Ocean Science Bowl. According to Hua, "Prior knowledge from Ocean Science has helped me greatly with my experiments, like monitoring sea water conditions". Not only this, but the rigorous, multidisciplinary Ocean Science curriculum—which combines aspects of marine biology, physical oceanography and environmental science—allows Hua to situate his research in the greater context of addressing the ocean's biggest threats.

"I feel like I'm better prepared to do research in the future, and more familiar with marine biology procedures that can help me further investigate issues like ocean acidification," said Hua.

Even in ways beyond knowing the material, Hua feels that his experience working for Dr. Perez has readied him for the coming years of college research; "I've learned the importance of keeping meticulous notes, documenting everything, making enough time for it, and maintaining a consistent schedule". More pressingly, though, for anyone looking to get involved in research, Hua stresses "Find a lab that you enjoy working in, that's the most important part."

Alyssa Kattan (Class of 2020)

Fall teacher assignments

Posted on Friday, September 20, 2019 by for Juniors, Seniors.

Midwood Science Research 2020
Elert Seniors Katzoff Seniors Mosley Seniors
Ihtsham Chaudhry Ashley Chin Naffisat Atanda
Hong Wei Chen Daniel Drozdov Serena Duran
Oliwia Dankiw Kelly Guan Tristan Ene
Nadzeya Fliaha Victoria Habbchy Gloria Glenn
Tanzena Haque Jasmine Huang Idrees Ilahi
Henry Hua Anum Jabeen Emily Ly
Mariyum Jahan Suraiya Khoja Tanisa Rahman
Alyssa Kattan Jessica Lin Defne Sener
Esther Lee Noor Mohammad
Blessin Mcfarlane Lameya Rahman  
Almedina Mulic Stella Ruan  
Kevin Ng Jessica Zheng  
Tiffany Ngo    
Gabriella Shalumov    
Meghan Stern    
Elert Juniors Katzoff Juniors Mosley Juniors
Mohinur Abdullaeva Alexiz Aguilar Sarah Akram
Fariha Ahmed Lyna Ammi Muskan Ali
Zilola Ashurboyeva Emily Chen Jenane Benhalima
Anna Chen Victoria Garcia Jason Calangi
Ivy Chen Nichole Gutierrez Treazure Da Breo
Tinnie Chen Zainab Ishfaq Nitu Farhin
Maham Ghori Aliyeh Khan Darryl Francois
Suzayet Hoque Declan Lin Jenny He
Judy Huang Rachel Malinkovich Xinyi Huang
Aya Ibrahim Marlen Mendieta-Camaron Shehan Hussain
Nicole Kravets Monica Mesiha Lazizakhon Ibrakhimova
Tamari Kvaratskhelia Zita Mimer Ilana Kolomiyets
Helen Pan Malayka Mudassar Edward Li
Hong Bin Pan Evelyn Schwartsman Sonya Liang
Tasnia Shadat Jessica Serheyeva Tiffany Ng Li
Tahreem Sittar Kirsten Shyu Hassan Rizwan
Jaden Thomas Victoria Tatarynova Oscar Rojasperez
Samiha Uddin Jacklyn Vu Madelynn Yung
Nelly Zhang    
Amanda Zhou    

Last update Friday, December 20, 2019

Science research update

Posted on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 by for ACT-SO, Awards, Brooklyn College, Media, NYCSEF, Science Fair.

To celebrate the last two days of the academic year, here's all the news that happened at Midwood Science in the past two months. Have a great summer and see you in September.

Fizza Nayab and Emily Movsumova win at 2019 Brooklyn College Science Day

Posted on Friday, May 3, 2019 by for Awards, Brooklyn College.

3 Midwood students awarded gold medals at 2019 NYC ACT-SO

Posted on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 by for ACT-SO, Awards.

2019 Science Fair Abstract Book (and more from the past)

Posted on Monday, May 27, 2019 by for Science Fair.

2019 Science Fair in action

Posted on Thursday, May 30, 2019 by for Science Fair.

Alyssa Kattan represents Midwood High School and Brooklyn College at the 47th annual MARM

Posted on Friday, May 31, 2019 by for Publications.

Midwood Science students volunteer at the 2019 World Science Festival

Posted on Monday, June 3, 2019 by for Everyone.

2019 Midwood Science Fair Awards

Posted on Friday, June 7, 2019 by for Awards, Science Fair.

NYCSEF competitors strive for success

Posted on Thursday, June 13, 2019 by for Media, NYCSEF.

Research students debut findings at Science Fair

Posted on Thursday, June 13, 2019 by for Media, Science Fair.

Research students debut findings at Science Fair

Posted on Thursday, June 13, 2019 by for Media, Science Fair.

May 30th will be a exciting day for many of the sophomore research kids. The science fair will be taking place all over the third floor of the annex, starting at 3:30 pm and ending at 6:00 pm. There, student projects will be judged by five different judges.

All sophomore research students must make a project, and they are given about a month to work on it. While working as a team or individually, they can choose their own topic, with approval from a teacher. There are under 100 contestants, but about 120 judges. The judges are a mix of alumni, juniors and seniors in AP Research, and a handful of teachers.

As a bonus, there will be free food, Mr. Glenn Elert, a physics teacher, said, adding, "Everyone likes that. Free food is good."

Mr. Elert is also the teacher who compiles the scores from the judges into a spreadsheet. From there, the winner, runners up, and honorable mentions are calculated based on their scores.

Student standing next to her poster talking to a judge
Maham Ghori '21 explains her research results to Dr. Trevor Stokes, biology teacher and judge for the science fair. Photo Credit: Justin Chow.

Sophomore Aaliyah Gordon's project involves the cleanliness of water and the effect of boiling. She said, "I chose this project because my parents boil water instead of using tap, so I was wondering if that was effective. They also buy cases of bottled water to drink, so I was wondering if it has little to no bacteria. There is a stigma in America that tap water is bad and bottled water is good, and I wanted to test this for myself."

Though the teachers don't choose the project topics, they do help guide the students in their work.

Jeanine Jardine '21 said, "My research teacher Mrs. [Shaniece] Mosley has worked so hard to support us. She constantly gives us ideas and advice to make our experiment better."

Ms. Mosley, a chemistry and research teacher, said, "I've got some very inventive projects this year, but I won't say specifically [who she thinks will win]. I think some great things will come out of my class."

Two student standing in front of their poster
Jaden Thomas '21 and Tasnia Shadat '21 tested the effect of color on the
efficiency of water purification. Photo Credit: Justin Chow.

Some projects have presented unexpected challenges. Sophomore Lucie Lim's project dealt with how the fat percentage of cheese could affect bacteria.

"Since we are making our own cheeses at home, the experiment is flawed," she said. "We don't know how to make cheese, so we could disrupt the controlled experiment. I now have a newfound appreciation for people who make cheese."

And sometimes, science just stinks, literally.

Gordon said, "I absolutely despise the smell of growing bacteria. It is horrendous, but being able to see what's inside of my water is fascinating."

Overall, the experience has been a valuable one.

"What I like about the experiment is getting a taste of how a lab works and what we do in a lab," said Lim.

The fair itself is on May 30, and the award ceremony will most likely take place June 14.

"May the best project win," said Mr. Elert.

Written by Hillary Michel (Class of 2020)
This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Argus.

NYCSEF competitors strive for success

Posted on Thursday, June 13, 2019 by for Media, NYCSEF.

Surely, robotic body parts only exist in "The Terminator." There is no such thing as a real cyborg, right?

Wrong! As Midwood's very own Rana Mohamed '19 can tell you, robotic body parts are real. Mohamed won first place at the New York City Engineering Science Fair (NYCSEF) for her robotic passive walker.

NYSCEF is a competition where students from all over New York City come together and present scientific projects they've worked on all year. Students send in a research paper, and about 450 projects are selected to be presented at the science fair. Among the 450 projects, only 120 are selected to move on to the final round.

Midwood had 32 students selected to compete in the competition, and five moved on to the finals. Along with Mohamed's first place win, Annabel Xie '19 and Larissa Brijmohan '19 came in second place, and Fizza Nayab '19 and Maryam Khan '19 came in third place.

Mohamed's invention was a step towards the future of biomedical engineering.

"I built an actuated passive walker that mimics the movement of exoskeletons used by paraplegics, people who are paralyzed from waist down," said Mohamed. "I made this walker to conduct energy expenditure experiments to extend the battery life of my walker. Essentially, if I am able to figure out which variables can decrease energy consumption, I can project my findings onto an actual exoskeleton."

Traditional photo of a student standing in front of her poster.
Rana Mohamed '19 hopes to project her findings onto an actual exoskeleton.

The passive walker has a promising future. It can be used to help people paralyzed from the waist down or veterans with lost legs. They could use the passive walker to walk normally.

Mohamed is currently studying how to extend the battery life and lower the weight of the walker to make it possible to attach it to the skeleton of a human. She will be attending New York University (NYU) Tandon this coming fall to continue her research in biomedical engineering.

The science research class helped various students branch out into different fields they were interested in and get hands-on experience.

"You start research as a sophomore, and you do foundational work like how to write papers and how to write an argument," said Mr. Glenn Elert said. "Sophomores do the sophomore science fair, and juniors try to find internships in labs across the city to work there for about a year. Then they enter competitions in the fall of senior year."

Xie described her second place win as "an honor."

"I studied [and] did field work on monk parakeets, Myiopsitta monachus," said Xie. "I'm in a psychology lab. I worked with the ArcGIS, which is a system that allows us to map things, put data layers onto a map, and perform spatial analysis."

Xie did research and mapped out monk parakeet nests. Monk parakeets are small bright green parrots that can be relatively noisy creatures.

"Since monk parakeets are often viewed as a noise nuisance, my research can help inform people about where monk parakeets tend to nest so people who are not fond of noises would know to move away from these areas," said Xie. "If people like the noises, they can move closer to the birds."

This research gives the real estate market a new perspective on property value. Depending on the buyer, knowledge on where the monk parakeets are nesting can change the buyer's view of the property.

Whether its building passive walkers or mapping the nesting of monk parakeets, the future is bright for Midwood's NYCSEF competitors.

Written by Armin Pasukanovic (Class of 2020)
This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Argus.

Older Posts ☞