Seniors continue their Science Research projects in college

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Katie McCabe ’18

Katie McCabe ’18

As seniors Anna-Luisa Brakman and Alexandra (Ally) Grusky conclude their time at Sacred Heart Greenwich, they will continue to explore the Science Research projects that they began in high school. Three years after initiating their passion for their respective projects under the leadership of Upper School Science Teacher Ms. Mary Musolino, Anna-Luisa and Ally are eager to enhance their knowledge in college.
Science Research at Sacred Heart allows students to pursue and research a topic that interests them in a three year course. These two seniors will be continuing their research projects using the resources available to them at their respective colleges.
Anna-Luisa, who will be attending Stanford University in the fall, spent her time in the Science Research course working on a proposal titled, “Impeding the development of biofilms in Enterobacter cloacae by blocking quorum sensing communication systems.”
“Essentially, my research proposal tries to stop bacteria from activating harmful genes by blocking the receptors by which these bacteria sense the presence of others,” Anna-Luisa said. “This is relevant because traditional antibiotics work by killing bacteria, which bacteria can evolve against and that is why there’s a huge problem with antibiotic resistance today. My project would eliminate that problem because you’re not actually killing bacteria that cause infections—you’re just blocking the way they communicate so that they can’t become harmful.”
Anna-Luisa’s research proposal has not yet been completed, as her proposal requires additional funding and facilities. However, she does intend to continue her research proposal next year in college.
“I definitely intend to work in research labs in college, hopefully beginning freshman year if I can, probably in the fields of microbiology and immunology,” Anna-Luisa said. “From what I gather, typically freshmen begin building relationships with professors in research fields that they are interested in and get to know the work that is done in these professors’ labs first. Then, as students gain more experience, they can request to carry out their own self-designed research proposals with the guidance of a professor.” 
Meanwhile, Ally, who will be attending Williams College in the fall, studied the abundance of black sea bass in a natural rocky reef, an oyster aquaculture cage farm, and a shell-bottom environment. In college, Ally plans on working further with her existing data and intends to perform more statistical analysis.
Last summer, Ally worked on a research vessel with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Milford Laboratory. Recently, she presented her research at the Lead Like a Girl Conference at the Stuart Country Day School, a Sacred Heart network school, in Princeton, New Jersey. 
“Science Research makes you feel like anything is possible,” Anna-Luisa said. “The amazing thing about doing it as a high school student is that you approach complex scientific phenomena from a relatively inexperienced background, which can actually lead you to think outside the box in ways that you might not if you just learned in a traditional classroom setting.”
-Katie McCabe, Staff Writer