“I never thought I’d be going to an academic conference at such a young age,” said Hreedi D. ’20, who has been participating in the Independent Science Research (ISR) program since Grade 10. ISR, a three-year, student-driven elective overseen by Science teacher Colm O’Mahony, enables students like Hreedi to work closely with researchers and mentors in a laboratory setting until they analyze and present their findings at the end of senior year.
This past summer, following Hreedi’s second year in the program, her ISR research at Dr. Martin Prince’s Weill Cornell radiology lab took her to major scientific conferences in London, England and Nantes, France.
After submitting her abstract titled “2D cine Phase Contrast MR Renal Blood Flow Characterizes Disease Progression in Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD),” Hreedi was invited to the conferences to present her findings alongside scientists from her lab. Her abstract also earned a travel grant to attend the Nantes Society for Magnetic Resonance Angiography (SMRA) conference.
Hreedi, the youngest person to participate this year, was joined by leading radiology experts from around the world to explore concepts in radiology at a variety of panels and lectures. She also had the opportunity to create a poster and give an oral presentation about her own research on ADPKD, which focuses on identifying bio-markers or early symptoms of the disease to aid healthcare practitioners in diagnosing and treating patients sooner.
“I met some amazing professionals in the field of radiology” said Hreedi, who described her experience at the conferences and in ISR as “transformative.”
Hreedi emphasized that the student-led nature of ISR makes it a particularly valuable experience.
“Being given the kind of freedom to immerse yourself in whatever you want to do, whatever you find yourself passionate about, offers a unique perspective into something that you might want to do in the future,” said Hreedi. “It’s a nice, hands-on experience before you get into the subject more deeply in college.”
In ISR, “you are challenging yourself and getting a real-life experience into what research really is about,” Hreedi underscored, noting that because of ISR, she is “really immersed in the radiology field” and is one step closer to her goal of working in medicine.
“I find myself working hard, but also getting rewarded for it.”
The ISR program is a three-year elective that offers students a chance to conduct research and work closely with researchers and mentors in a laboratory setting. Students choose their own topic of research from a variety of areas—mathematics, physical sciences, life sciences, social sciences or psychology—and conduct an extensive review of scientific literature on the topic. They create testable hypotheses, perform experiments, analyze data and write a final paper, then present their findings at the symposium. Science teacher Colm O’Mahony oversees ISR as an advisor.