Schiff Family Science Research Institute

Our students don't have to wait until college or graduate school to find out what it's like to work in a professional lab. At The Summit, real-world research with working scientists happens during high school.  

Upper School students in the program spend eight weeks in the summer working with a professional researcher. Then they write up their research in scientific journal style, develop their scientific poster and perfect their oral presentation of their work. Some of their posters and presentations have gone on to win prestigious awards.   

 Our Science Research Institute is unique to Cincinnati. Biochemist Jessica Sakash Replogle, Ph.D., leads the program through three sequentially tiered classes and work in research labs. She builds on the foundation of Middle and Upper School science courses to give students a head start when it comes to scientific literacy and laboratory experience. College professors have remarked at how well prepared these institute students are in operating in a higher education laboratory setting. 

 At The Summit, this is part of how we are turning out scientists. Your teen could be the next to have the chance to author or co-author a scientific, peer-reviewed journal article. Some students have earned full U.S. Patents on their research projects.   

 We accept up to 14 juniors in this highly competitive program. We evaluate applications based on good character, motivation, scientific pursuits outside the classroom, academic performance, work ethic and emotional intelligence. We do not necessarily admit applicants with the longest resume or highest test scores. We take a holistic approach. 

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Jessica Sakash Replogle, Ph.D. is the head of the Schiff Family Science Research Institute. Dr. Replogle received a doctorate in biochemistry from Boston College and bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from University of New Hampshire. She has been published in numerous professional, scientific journals from her work at Boston College and Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. 

Learn more

SRI Blog

Siena Cutforth:  design of zoo exhibit spaces to maintain animal health and well-being as well as enhance guest experience

Every day this summer I got to eat lunch besides some of the world’s most exotic animals. No, I was not in the African savannah but at the #1 zoo in the nation, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. My project allowed me to sit outside at the Cincinnati Zoo studying and observing the White Lion habitat. I noted how guests interacted with the exhibit, what they said, how they acted, where they migrated. All of this to create a new design for the exhibit that enhances guest experience as well as maintains animal health and well-being.

Reagan Sutton:  testing for the presence of Wolbachia bacteria in two species of 17-year periodical cicadas

Many of us experienced the loud chirping of swarms of cicadas this summer. I was able to take advantage of these swarms of cicadas and use them as the subject of my research project. With The Wolbachia Project, originating at Vanderbilt University, I was able to investigate if Wolbachia, a symbiotic bacterium that lives in the reproductive organs of about fifty percent of known arthropods, was present in periodical decim and cassini magicicadas. Dr. Jessica Replogle mentored a fellow classmate and me through the processes of specimen collection, DNA isolation, DNA amplification using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and agarose gel electrophoresis in The Summit’s Schiff Family Science Research Institute laboratory.

Parker Bricking:  researching the effects of benzo[a]pyrene on stress response in mice

This summer I had the opportunity to work under Dr. Christine Curran in her toxicology lab at Northern Kentucky University. I was warmly welcomed into the toxicology lab and learned large amounts of information about the field in a short amount of time. Dr. Curran’s lab currently is researching the effects of benzo[a]pyrene or B[a]P, a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon on mice and their brain development. B[a]P is a carcinogen commonly found in car exhaust, grilled foods, and fires. Despite being a well-studied compound, its neurotoxic effects are not well studied.

Nicholas Ciaccio:  using bioinformatic approaches to understand chronobiology and genomics

Ever since I was young, I have been interested in math because it stimulates and activates all parts of my brain. Analyzing and examining large amounts of data has been an interest of mine for many years. This summer I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Marc Ruben, a Research Fellow in the Hogenesch Lab at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Dr. Ruben uses bioinformatic approaches to understand chronobiology and genomics. With Dr. Ruben, I studied large amounts of biological data. The goal of this project was to analyze variations in human blood analytes, such as absolute monocytes and creatinine. Specifically, the analysis looked for seasonal and monthly variations in which they are more likely to be effective. We used data on 74 different analytes from 1 million patient files from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Emergency Room.

Morgan Riley:  evaluating recent trends behind the different types of cartilage restoration surgeries

Two years ago, I awoke from my ACL surgery to hear the nurses talking about me.   Apparently, as the anesthesia was wearing off, I did not ask for my mom but instead for pictures from my surgery. The nurses later sent the pictures to me, which to this day you can find in the left drawer of my desk. This summer, thanks to the Schiff Science Research Institute, I had the privilege to continue to explore the fascinating world of orthopedics. I researched the trends of various cartilage restoration surgeries at Mercy Health - Cincinnati Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics in Montgomery, OH under the guidance of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian Chilelli, as well as research coordinator Ms. Cassie Fleckenstein.