William Floyd High School ninth grader Nathalia Reis recently took first place in the New York State Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) Junior Division Research Competition at the 19th annual STEP Statewide Student Conference held in Albany, NY. Nathalia’s project, which she worked on with fellow freshman Erin Tumbrello, was the overall winner in the competitive biological science project division. Nathalia and Erin were mentored and advised by William Floyd science teachers Victoria D’Ambrosia and Anya Swiss, as well as scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center.
The project, “Analyzing the Biodiversity of Biological Vectors from a Forested Environment to a Coastal Environment,” asked the questions “What is the biodiversity of biological vectors between forested and coastal regions?” and “Are novel sequences present in each of these locations?” To conduct this research, the students collected and identified vectors from a coastal region at the Manor of St. George in Shirley, NY, and a forested region in Manorville, NY. After DNA was extracted and amplified, students compared the sequences to two genetics databases (NCBI GenBank and BOLD). “Nothing can be concluded yet but it appears one sequence may be novel,” said Ms. D’Ambrosia, William Floyd High School science research teacher. “Students also found that there was higher biodiversity in Manorville and believe it is attributed to increased habitat complexity.”
Without the help of Dr. Sharon Pepenella, Dr. Bruce Nash and Dr. Cristina Fernandez-Marco from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center and Barcode Long Island, this research would not have been possible. The William Floyd High School Research Program would also like to acknowledge Stony Brook University’s Science and Technology Entry Program and the “A Day in the Life of the Carmans River” event, which is a collaboration of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Central Pine Barrens Commission and the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Two other William Floyd students presented their projects in the competition. Freshman Angela Ochoa presented, “An Analysis of Microbiomes within the Root Systems of Zostera Marina Patches with Varying Shoot Densities in Moriches Bay, Westhampton Beach, NY.” Angela collaborated with William Floyd junior Elizabeth Scianno and freshman Philip Oriuwa.
Additionally, sophomore Jason Rattansingh presented a project that he worked on with junior Dominick Caputo, “An Analysis of Microbiomes in Revolutionary War, Civil War and Modern Graveyards throughout Long Island, New York.”