Local High Schooler Headed For National Symposium

  Half Hollow Hills High School East sophomore Cassandra Ye, center, pictured with, from left, Suffolk Legislator Tom Donnelly; her mother Shu Song; her father Shengyi Ye; and Half Hollow Hills Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education John O’Farrell.   (Photo/Office of Suffolk Legis. Tom Donnelly)

Half Hollow Hills High School East sophomore Cassandra Ye, center, pictured with, from left, Suffolk Legislator Tom Donnelly; her mother Shu Song; her father Shengyi Ye; and Half Hollow Hills Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education John O’Farrell. (Photo/Office of Suffolk Legis. Tom Donnelly)

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

A Half Hollow Hills High School East sophomore is one of only five Long Island students who have been selected as delegates for the 56th National Junior Sciences and Humanities Symposium that will take place next month in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Cassandra Ye’s biological research project earned her a trip to the symposium, sponsored by the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, which promotes original research and experimentation in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics at the high school level and publicly recognizes students for outstanding achievement.

Ye said she spent almost two months over the summer working on the research project that focused on hormone signaling pathways in Lemna minor, or duckweed.

“We found a hormone signaling pathway in this plant that hasn’t been known before,” Ye said. “What the signaling pathway does is it combats stress that is placed on the plant.”

The heavy metal titanium dioxide was used to put the plant under stress, Ye said, and the ability of certain hormones to alleviate the stress signaled the existence of the signaling pathway.

Ye’s research project was chosen as the top environmental project from over 100 submissions. That designation earned her the opportunity to join 11 other students in Long Island regional finals on Feb. 24. At the regional finals Ye was selected as one of Long Island’s five delegates.

“It was surreal,” Ye said. “Honestly I didn’t expect me and my project to make it that far, and I am just grateful that I get a chance to go.”

Ye said she discovered the titanium dioxide problem in plants through reading academic research studies. The stress-response pathway in aquatic plants could be used to alleviate the harmful effects of heavy metal pollutants on plants.

Ye said she is excited to have the opportunity to meet other young researchers from around the county at the symposium.

She said, “It will just be really interesting to see what people my age are working on, and what other possible science disciplines are out there.”