Spence News

Independent Science Research and Eco Fellows Present Research and Projects at Symposium

Students in the Independent Science Research (ISR) and Eco Fellows program presented their yearslong research at a culminating symposium to the Spence community, which included families, teachers, mentors, and fellow students. Ten juniors and four seniors also presented poster displays, which summarized ongoing research.

At the symposium, ISR fellows presented on a range of interests, including the influence of early educational environments on consciousness development in three-year-olds, how growth factor genes in the placenta can impact the risk of autism in children, and how to combat world hunger by genetically modifying quinoa for easier processing. Launched in 2006, the ISR program asks students interested in scientific research to identify, explore, and design their own curriculum focused on a topic of interest–they have the option of starting ISR in Grade 10 or Grade 11. 

Throughout the program, students share their ongoing research with one another as a community of researchers during class. This year 39 Upper School students participated in the ISR Fellows program, collaborating with researchers at Columbia Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medicine Meyer Cancer Center, the Department of Radiology and Molecular Pharmacology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and more.

This year 22 students participated in the Eco Fellows program, exploring their interests in environmental leadership and investigating environmental governance and injustice with an aim toward a final project. This year’s senior cohort shared experiences facilitating organized events, conducting research, and advocating in local communities for environmental sustainability and change.

Senior Eco Fellows projects included researching the impact of green gentrification in NYC, studying the effects of e-waste and promoting actions to reduce and inform consumers on how to safely dispose of tech, and examining how small NYC businesses can improve their organic composting methods, focusing specifically on the waste of coffee grounds. 

Presentations by 15 students participating in the ISR and Eco Fellow programs highlighted the extraordinary scholarly work that Upper School students engage in with the support of the Science Department faculty. “I’ve seen many of these students begin working on these projects years ago, in some cases. They’ve shared about their mentors and the labs that they’re working in, and the ways they’re going to change the world and make it a more just and environmentally sound place,” said Head of Upper School Rachael Flores during her opening remarks. “What makes me most excited is right now, and maybe two years from now when they’re in college, or five years from now when they’re in graduate school, ten years from now when they’re changing the world in ways we can’t imagine—Nobel Peace Prizes, it will happen—that it all started here.”

Graduating ISR Fellows
Emma A. - “A Disposable & Biodegradable Menstrual Alternative”
Ella I. - “Literature Review of Epigenetic Methylation of BDNF Associated with Childhood Maltreatment”
Ellie K. - “Phenotyping Melanoma and Basal Cell Carcinoma Tumor Immune Microenvironments (TIME) In Vivo to Predict Immunotherapy Response”
Elena M. - “Beta-Amyrin Synthase Gene Knockout in Chenopodium Quinoa”
Sedina O. - “Examining the Influence of Early Educational Environments on Consciousness Development in Three-Year-Olds: An Observational Study”
Louisa P. - “How the Expression of Growth Factor Genes in the Placenta Impact Autism Spectrum Disorder Risk in Children”
Emily P. - “Exosomes Promote Secondary Central Nervous System Lymphoma Metastasis”
Zara S. - “Improving Treatments for EGFR Mutant Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer from TKIs to CRISPR”
Alyssa S. - “Determining the Synergy Between Senescence and Ferroptosis in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma: A Preliminary Investigative Study”
Emma S. - “Investigating The Effect of Wellness Week on Cortisol Stress Levels”
Sophie W. - “Integrative Multi-Omics Profiling in Human Decedents Receiving Pig Heart Xenografts”

Graduating Eco Fellows
Lola A. - “Investing for a Sustainable Future”
Annesley A. - “Eliminate E-Waste”
Sydney A. - “Green Thumb NYC: A Lifestyle of Home Gardening”
Ella C. - “Water Wisdom: Influencing Green Votes”
Ann H. - “Cultivating Connections”
Peiran "Jennifer" M. - “Is Green Gentrification a Real Problem in NYC?”
Ana N. - “Grounds for Change: From Coffee to Compost”
Lee Lee S. - “Uniting for Change: Inspiring Environmental Action Amongst NYC Students”

A K-12 independent school in New York city, The Spence School prepares a diverse community of girls and young women for the demands of academic excellence and responsible citizenship.


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