By Jano Tantongco
A trio of St. Anthony’s High School students earned spots as semi-finalists in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium for their innovative research that pushes the frontier in science research.
One of the students, senior Christopher Koch, interned last summer with the Stern Group of Nanophotonics and Magnetism at Northwestern University in Chicago. There, he studied the how the magneto-optic Kerr effect and how light reflects on magnetic surfaces.
He helped develop a magnetometer using this effect to study yttrium iron garnet thin film. In doing this, he contributed to his team’s work in improving the accuracy of measurements.
“We were trying to minimize the noise barrier so we can detect smaller signals,” Koch said. “And, that’s what I was able to do by about a factor of 10.”
Koch is also a semi-finalist in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, which earned both him and the school $2,000 each.
Hannah Eckstein, a senior, studied fluid mechanics for cancer research and early detection at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York. She and the team flowed breast tissue cells through microchannels ranging from 20-120 micrometers in size.
As the cells slammed into an intersection in the microchannel, the cells deform. The way they deform, Eckstein said, can act as a marker for how healthy they are.
“To use this for real life applications, right now, early cancer detection is done one cell at a time. It can take weeks to months. But, this method takes anywhere from five, 10 minutes to 30 [minutes], so it’s big steps,” Eckstein said.
Senior Jared Meyers conducted an analysis on usage of statistics in scientific literature. He attempted to determine how popular scientific articles were based on how well they used statistics by comparing 60 articles using the rating platform Altmetric.
Meyers concluded that good statistics did not have a significant impact on articles’ popularity.
“Using good statistics won’t hurt your paper in terms of popularity,” Meyers said. “Or, nobody uses them to the proper level, and it doesn’t matter how good your statistics are.”
Paul Paino, science research director for the school, said the students will present their projects at York College in Queens on Sunday for a chance to earn their place in the Long Island finals. After that, five students from the region will advance to the national JSHS competition taking place in April San Diego.