As Big Blue readies itself for the fall season, it hopes to improve upon its record last season, during which the team took third in the Metropolitan Independent Football League.
"Thank you to the administration. The research program needs a big allocation of resources, but it's worth it."
"I don't know—go find out."
"Did you build it?"
"Yes, from scratch!"
"Was there a manual?"
"No manual—we had to think of everything ourselves."
Spoken by Drew Beckmen '19, Teddy Leithead '14, and a youngster fascinated by a robot, these comments came from Pingry's 2019 Research Exhibit, coordinated by biology teacher Dr. Morgan D'Ausilio. It marked the seventh annual display of projects from the research program*—over 120 students, all involved in high-level research. An attendee of this exhibit, which showcases many projects that are continued from year to year with new generations of students, cannot help but be awed by the in-depth work Pingry students undertake on a wide range of topics.
For context: Drew expressed his gratitude during a keynote presentation about his four years in the research program, tracing his involvement to a freshman-year Honors Biology project about HIV (he would later be part of the S.M.A.R.T. Team and IRT); Mr. Leithead, an alumnus of the research program who attended Dartmouth College and is pursuing a Master's degree in the Rutgers Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, recalled in his keynote (about antibiotics research) one of his lab head's responses that encouraged further investigating on his part; and the youngster, excited by a fast-moving robot that was making large circles in the gym, posed his questions to Alex Strasser '19 of the award-winning Robotics Team.
As part of the exhibit, Journal Club members Gabby Billington '20, Jessica Yatvitskiy '21, and Lauren Shelby '19 repeated their presentations from earlier in the school year about, respectively, a brain implant to fight against long-term memory loss (anything after 30 seconds), decoding the brain, and repairing brain tissue after a stroke.
Other topics in the exhibit included deer attraction to plants; mealworms as potential protein for world hunger; Alzheimer's neurodegeneration in flies; BRCA2 gene mutations in breast cancer; environmental monitoring with Swarm Robotics; converting waste to biogas—and guests could hold a pine snake, the subject of research about genetic diversity.
Those in attendance who might be interested in joining the program were given advice about how to navigate the potential complexity. As Drew said, "Have an open mind, and keep asking questions."
* Research Program (includes collaborations with universities and research labs)
AP Biology Master Projects
Anatomy Club (dissections)
Belize Marine Biology Research
FYI Sci (using digital media to share new knowledge on interesting topics)
IRT (Independent Research Team)
PCR Journal (Pingry Community Research)
Robotics (Middle and Upper School)
S.M.A.R.T. Team (Students Modeling a Research Topic)
Contact: Greg Waxberg '96, Communications Writer