Science researchers gain field experience in yearlong program 

Science researchers gain field experience in yearlong program 

Sixteen seniors spent the past year in an intensive program centered around science research training, culminating in a student-led colloquium on February 28, 2022. One pair's work was accepted for publication in a scientific journal for middle and high school students.

The students are members of the Schiff Family Science Research Institute (SRI), a college preparatory program at The Summit that is designed for those who plan to seek degrees and careers in the sciences. Unique to Cincinnati schools, the SRI partners students with mentors in the community to complete field work and analysis. Led by Summit faculty member, Dr. Jessica Replogle, SRI was established at The Summit in 2013. 

Aubrey Jones used the opportunity to conduct an audiology study on how the pandemic has impacted perceived hearing loss in teenagers. She used a survey to collect data and found that wearing masks resulted in a decrease in perceived hearing among her test subjects in situations where the background noise levels are higher. Aubrey then concluded that wearing masks in the classroom creates obstacles to learning – students who cannot hear well have more difficulty learning.  

“I launched the survey over the summer and had to work hard to get a large enough sample of responses,” she says. “I'm satisfied that my test subjects were representative of the Summit community.” 

Parker Bricking was matched with scientists at Northern Kentucky University’s Department of Biological Science to study the effects of stress on adult mice to determine whether common pollutants adversely affect the nervous system. Parker says he most enjoyed the hands-on work of examining the mice’s brain tissue to observe the neurobehavioral effects of the pollutants.  

“It was a challenge to understand the impact of genotype on the stress response of the mice,” he says. “The lab experience was very valuable; I learned a lot about different testing methods.” 

Siena Cutforth was able to combine her interest in animals with her SRI project. Paired with a habitat architect at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, she tested a variety of design prototypes to determine the best use of a now-vacant lion habitat. The zoo’s beloved white lion recently passed away. 

“The issues with grading were the biggest challenge,” Siena says. “With some modifications to the space, the spotted hyena has the adaptability to be well suited to the enclosure, and I hope that my work has some influence on the final design that is implemented.” 

Summit parent John Good attended the SRI with his daughter Angela, a current junior in the program about to embark on her summer research. “This looks like a room full of future doctors,” he said. Mr. Good was especially interested in Irene Calderon’s presentation on cutaneous lupus and Lauren Foley’s work to understand women’s heart disease. He was also impressed with Carter Bibler’s study on biocementation that was conducted with scientists at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base. 

Cecilia Hasan and Reagan Sutton used the cicada emergence during summer 2021 to study Wolbachia in the insects. They submitted their work to the Journal of Emerging Investigators and expect it to be published later this year.

“The sense of belonging is crucial to identity as a scientist, and identity as a scientist is more important than grades or background when it comes to creating an inclusive pipeline into science careers,” Dr. Replogle says. “I hope this experience of research and belonging to our community of high school researchers is only the beginning for these future scientists who will improve this world they inherit.”  

Acceptance into the SRI is by application only and is based on academic achievement, work ethic, interest and involvement in science-based extracurriculars and faculty recommendations.  

The 2022 Class of SRI Members: 

Carter B. Bibler, “Effect of Metal Salt Incubation on the Modulus Values of Nvjp-1 Coated Glass Beads” 

Parker T. Bricking, “The Effect of B[a]P Exposure during Early Brain Development on Adult Stress Hormone in Mice” 

Irene Calderon, “Inflammasome Genes and Modulators are Upregulated in Cutaneous Lupus” 

Nicholas T. Ciaccio, “Determining Seasonal Patterns of Blood Analytes from Emergency Medicine Testing” 

Siena Cutforth, “Conversion of Habitats at the Cincinnati Zoo: White Lion to Spotted Hyena” 

Katie E. Dobelhoff, “Somatic Tumor Profiling Among Lung Cancer Patients at TriHealth Cancer Institute: Measuring Identification of Biomarkers and Health Care Equity” 

Lauren R. Foley, “Ischemia with No Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease: Observations and Insights from a Single-Center Women’s Heart Registry” 

James G. Fraley, “Smart and Connected Health: How Can the IMS Center Advance Healthcare?” 

Cecilia Y. Hasan and Reagan Sutton, “Wolbachia Found in the 17-Year Periodical Cicadas” 

Aubrey Jones, “The Perceived Hearing of Teenagers Throughout the Pandemic Due to the Wearing of Masks” 

Elizabeth M. Moran, “Eye Tracking Analysis of Adolescent Attentional Biases Based on Chronic Pain and Anxiety in School Environments” 

Olivia A. Murphy, “The Effects on the Change of Analysis of Metabolic Activity Rate of CYP2D6 Protein on the Prescription of Psychiatric Drugs on Adolescents” 

Carl J. Replogle, “Predictors of Early Outcome Following Anatomic Total Shoulder Arthroplasty Using Short Stem Humeral and Minimally Cemented Glenoid Components” 

Morgan E. Riley, “A New Era of Cartilage Restoration: The Trends of Cartilage Restoration Surgery Over a Ten-Year Period” 

Anna Catherine M. Sansalone, “Monitoring Montana’s Waters: Macroinvertebrate Monitoring and Water Quality Project”