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. 

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SRI Blog

Sean LaMacchia: Mapping the Milky Way using radio astronomy

This summer I had the opportunity to work with Nathan Whitsett, a former Summit graduate who is now in the Physics Department at Washington University in St. Louis. Nathan is affiliated with the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) in North Carolina and was able to obtain permission for me to collect data remotely using one of their radio telescopes. At PARI, there are two telescopes, one twelve meters, which I used, and one twenty-six meters, which is used for more in-depth data. 

Sam Perez: Diversity of soil bacteria leveraged to discover new antibiotics

This summer I was able to research antibiotic producing bacteria in native soil at the Schiff Family Science Research Institute with Dr. Replogle at The Summit Country Day School. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, I was not able to do research with Dr. Rhett Kovall at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine, but I was able to do two weeks of research at school in cooperation with the Tiny Earth network of researchers. Although it was not my first choice, Tiny Earth allowed me to learn how to perform research, develop numerous microbiology and molecular biology skills and techniques which were connected to the basis of biochemistry that had made me interested in Dr. Kovall’s lab.

Sophia Stanisic: Investigating how cytomegalovirus manipulates the host environment to its benefit

I worked in the Miller laboratory in the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine on a remote project this summer. My mentor was Dr. Miller, who was the Principal investigator, or PI, for the laboratory. The overall objective of the Miller laboratory is to investigate the mechanisms by which microbial pathogens can manipulate transduction pathways in host cells.  I was interested in researching cytomegalovirus (CMV) Infections, which infect as much as 80% of the population worldwide. During initial CMV infections, viral replication at the portal of entry was disseminated via a low-level primary viremia to multiple internal organs. Robust replication in these organs and a secondary viremic phase disseminates virus throughout the host to tissues including the salivary glands.  

Benny Shen: Recent advances in bio-inspired surfaces for fouling resistance

Over the past summer, I conducted a literature search on bio-inspired surfaces with four additional groupmates. The starting point of this research is based on biomimetics, the study of biology or living nature in order to design artificial materials that mimic useful natural properties. Natural materials and surfaces have evolved specialized functions over approximately 3.8 billion years. There are a variety of surfaces that exhibit unusual and exciting properties. For instance, the lotus leaf causes water droplets to bead up and bounce off its surface. Several animal and plant species, such as the Namib desert beetle or spider webs, can capture water from fog. Shark skin have evolved to reduce drag from the water and the gecko’s foot demonstrates reversible adhesion.  

Evan Lakhia:  Databases to enhance clinical cardiology study on ST-Elevated Myocardial Infarctions

This summer I worked in the Lindner Research Center in the Medical Offices Building at The Christ Hospital. My mentor was Dr. Tim Henry, M.D., but I also had help from a second-year medical school student. The overall goal of the research I was helping with was to create and expand a multi-organizational databases containing clinical data from patients who presented with STEMI’s (ST-elevated myocardial infarctions). STEMI’s, more commonly known as “the widowmaker,” are a type of heart attack resulting from total blockage of a major artery, and the patients who present with them are in critical condition and require quick medical interventions to survive. Despite the seriousness of the situation, there is not much patient data in the United States about those who present with STEMI’s. The data collection and input I assisted with will be a huge help in the future for cardiologists to learn from this specific patient information to better help patients.  

Melina Traiforos: Influence of milkweed characteristics and location on abundance of monarchs

Monarch butterfly populations have been plummeting at an alarming rate since the 1980s due to logging and herbicide use. This summer, I worked at the Cincinnati Nature Center in Milford, OH to support the preservation of this species. The Rowe Woods location is a 1,016 acre park filled with natural beauty, conservation efforts, and some of the kindest people you will encounter. I was mentored by Mrs. Olivia Espinoza, who manages the CNC chapter of the nation-wide Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP), affiliated with the University of Minnesota.