A member of the Magistri, he taught science and coached wrestling at Pingry from 1957-1994.
I had the opportunity to participate in the New Jersey Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) held at Rutgers University on March 2, 2020. The JSHS Program is a tri-service—U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force—sponsored STEM competition that promotes original research and experimentation in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at the high school level and publicly recognizes students for outstanding achievement. This competition covered fields from computer science to environmental engineering to the biomedical sciences.
My journey to JSHS started back in the summer of 2019. I began working in a scientific laboratory at Princeton University under Professor A. James Link of the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department.
My research in the lab centered around a protein in a class of proteins that had not been studied previously. There is currently no published research into this class or the specific protein I studied, so this foray into uncharted territory represented a new learning experience for me. The general structure of this class has been hypothesized to contain a precursor of the protein that is modified by enzymes surrounding the precursor in the gene cluster, providing greater stability and function to the protein. This class of proteins is promising because of its potential therapeutic use.
During the summer, I had the opportunity to learn lab techniques and research methods, and interacted with senior researchers in the lab on a regular basis. I also had the opportunity to present a paper to the research group during the weekly literature survey meeting and drive the discussions on it. I also attended colloquiums where other researchers from Princeton's Natural Sciences Department discussed their research progress. I wrote a full research paper at the end of my internship.
Based on this summer experience, I submitted an abstract and research paper along with an explanatory video to the JSHS. My Pingry Physics teacher, Mr. Coe, agreed to serve as my school faculty mentor. The review committee consisted of university professors, scientists, and representatives from sponsoring organizations. I was notified in February that my submission was selected as a Poster Finalist, which meant that I would present my research in a tri-fold poster format to the JSHS committee and visitors.
On the day of the symposium, I attended the welcome address in the morning. Then, I presented my research for around two hours. I explained my findings to the attendees, who were curious about my research, and also to other student presenters.
In the afternoon, I attended several workshops about STEM fields and careers. Picatinny Arsenal, the sponsoring organization for the JSHS, organized several presentations about the technologies and engineering behind the weaponry that Picatinny manufactures. Additionally, there were presentations and panel discussions by Rutgers science and engineering students, and a Rutgers University professor explained his current research focused on amphibious drones.
I feel that one of the most gratifying aspects of participating in this symposium was getting to interact with other like-minded students at the fair. I had the opportunity to learn about diverse research projects from the student presenters and to talk about shared experiences in research, from experimentation to analysis. Pingry's research labs, programs (like IRT), and science classes helped me get my footing in the conceptual foundations of research, and having that background helped me communicate effectively during my presentation to the JSHS committee and to other student visitors.
This experience was very valuable as it served as an outlet for me to discuss my research. Pingry's support kickstarted my interest in research in freshman year, and I am excited to pursue it for the foreseeable future.
Contact: Greg Waxberg '96, Communications Writer, Editor of The Pingry Review