The Home of Midwood Science Research

Midwood Science collects 5 Young Naturalist Awards

Posted on Saturday, May 9, 2015 by for Miscellaneous.

Five Midwood Science students were Semifinalists in this year’s Young Naturalist Awards — a competition for students in grades 7–12 who explore the natural world around them in a scientific manner. Students summarize their findings in a research paper of 1,500–4,000 words which is then judged by a panel of experts. This competition is supervised by the American Museum of Natural History.

This year’s winners were mentored by two professors at Brooklyn College with outstanding histories of support for Midwood Science: Dr. Frank W. Grasso in the Department of Psychology and Dr. Zhongqi Joshua Cheng in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.


Left to right: Monique Powell, Dr. Frank Grasso, Muhammad Abdulla, Victor Lee, Elliot, Yukie Wong

Dr. Grasso’s students and collaborators study the feral population of monk parakeets in and around Brooklyn College. Like many Midwood Science students, these birds are the decedents of recent immigrants. Monk parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus) are native to Argentina and surrounding countries but have managed to start numerous, small colonies scattered across North America and Europe. All monk parakeets outside their original habitat are most certainly the descendants of escaped or unwanted pets. Midwood Science students Muhammad Abdulla, Monique Powell, and Yukie Wong studied various aspects of the behavior of these intelligent and entertaining birds.

  • Muhammad Abdulla
    Project: Chamber Analysis of Monk Parakeet Nests.
    Mentor: Dr. Frank W. Grasso, Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College
  • Monique Powell
    Project: Kinematics of the Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) During Courtship Rituals.
    Mentor: Dr. Frank W. Grasso, Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College
  • Yukie Wong
    Project: Seasonal Variation in Group Size of Monk Parakeets.
    Mentor: Dr. Frank W. Grasso, Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College


Left to right: Dr. Theodore Muth, Kate Lenahan, Dr. Jessica Joyner, Lucy Lin, Alonso Córdoba, Wen Li Wang, Jan Mun, Danielle Wagner, Dr. Joshua Cheng

Dr. Cheng’s students and collaborators have been working on ways to clean up contaminated soil in and around the Newtown Creek area on the northwestern border between Brooklyn and Queens. The New York Times reported that an estimated 17 million to 30 million gallons of oil, benzene, naphtha and other carcinogenic chemicals pollute Newtown Creek and a 55 acre, 25 foot deep swath of soil in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Contamination wasn’t due to a single catastrophic release, but was the result of 100 years of lax environmental protection. Midwood Science students Lucy Lin and Wen Li Wang are working on ways to clean up the soil using oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus). Lucy and Wen Li worked alongside and under the supervision of Ms. Kate Lenahan (Research Assistant), Ms. Danielle Wagner (Lab Technician), and Ms. Jan Mun (Media Artist and Director of The Greenpoint Bioremediation Project).

  • Lucy Lin
    Project: Degradation of TPH-Diesel in Soil through Mycoremediation.
    Mentor: Dr. Zhongqi Joshua Cheng, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Brooklyn College
  • Wen Li Wang
    Project: Remediation of Contaminated Soil in Urban Environments with Pleurotus ostreatus and Microorganisms
    Mentor: Dr. Zhongqi Joshua Cheng, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Brooklyn College
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