March 19, 2012
Mimi Yen, a student at Stuyvesant High School who worked with scientists at NYU’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology (CGSB), captured third place at the Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS), held last week in Washington, DC.
Yen, who worked in the evolutionary genomics laboratory of Assistant Professor Matt Rockman, focused on characterizing the mating behavior and genetics in C. elegans, a microscopic worm.
Yen, the first New York City student to place in the top three since 2005, worked with Audrey Chang, a postdoctoral researcher in the Rockman laboratory, investigating the genetic and chemical causes for variation in the mating behavior of C. elegans. C. elegans, the first animal species whose genome was completely sequenced, is widely studied by biologists because it provides a genetically tractable system for discovering the molecular basis for behavior and its evolution. Yen’s research offers a method to better understand the genetic variants that influence behavior—a dynamic that has been largely elusive to scientists.
Another finalist for Intel STS, Angela Fan, also worked with CGSB researchers. Fan, a student at Stuyvesant High School, studied root nutrient foraging in the laboratory of Professor Gloria Coruzzi. She applied a morphometric approach to quantifying the developmental plasticity space of different ecotypes of the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana in laboratory and natural environments.
Previously, two other area high school students working with CGSB faculty were among the 300 selected as semifinalists. They were:
• Rebecca Alford (Commack High School, Long Island), who worked in the computational biology group of Associate Professor Richard Bonneau, examined a novel structure-based approach to predicting the functional effects of mutations in membrane proteins using computational approaches.
• Ian Grant (Stuyvesant High School), who worked in the bacterial genomics laboratory of Associate Professor Patrick Eichenberger, conducted a project that included the characterization of spore kinases in the bacterial species Bacillus subtilis.
The Intel STS is the nation's most prestigious pre-college science competition. This year, Intel STS chose its 40 finalists from 1,839 applicants from around the U.S. Previous Intel STS winners have gone on to capture more than 100 of the world's most distinguished science and math honors, including seven Nobel Prizes and four National Medals of Science.