A duo of William Floyd High School student researchers under the tutelage of science research teacher Victoria Hernandez has been informed that their research has been selected for publication in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Emerging Investigators, an open-access journal that publishes original middle and high school research in the biological and physical sciences. The authors, Jason Rattansingh, a William Floyd High School senior, along with his collaborator Dominick Caputo, a 2018 alumnus who is currently serving in the United States Marine Corps, focused their work on analyzing and comparing the microhabitats within soil in Revolutionary War, Civil War and modern graveyards on Long Island.
For this research project, Jason and Dominick collected samples from cemeteries containing bodies that had been exposed to different embalming techniques. The students determined that there were trends based on location and that bacteria appeared to be in competition with one another. Additionally, bacteroidetes, a phyla associated with arsenic metabolism, were in higher concentrations within the Civil War cemetery. This finding is significant as arsenic was the main component in embalming techniques during the Civil War. According to Mrs. Hernandez, it is important to note that this finding is an inference and there may have been other factors contributing to this variation.
“I’m so proud of all that Jason and Dominick have accomplished,” said Mrs. Hernandez. “They achieved the goal they set for themselves at the beginning of their high school research careers – getting published in a peer-reviewed research journal,” she added. “They are both brilliant young men who will no doubt accomplish all that they set out to do.”
Jason and Dominick’s work on analyzing soil in graveyards from different eras has won several awards at various science competitions including earning first place in the environmental division at the Junior Varsity Long Island Science & Engineering Fair, as well as “Honors” at the Long Island Science Congress and an “Honorable Mention” award at the New York State Science and Engineering Fair’s Andromeda Competition.
Special thanks to Dr. Bruce Nash, Assistant Director for Science, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center, for his assistance and guidance, as without him, this publication would not have been possible.
For other up-and-coming William Floyd student-scientists, Dominick Caputo attended Tangier Smith Elementary School, William Paca Middle School and William Floyd High School; Jason Rattansingh attended William Floyd Middle School and William Floyd High School.