Student Scientists Amaze at Protein Modeling Challenge

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Three Carle Place science research students competed at the seventh annual Protein Modeling Challenge, held at Stony Brook University on Feb. 28. The competition was sponsored by the university’s Center for Science and Mathematics Education program, which fosters the development of high school science.

Gina Alexandro, April Schmück and Matt Seligman, with the assistance of classmate Samantha Hungerford, participated in three phases of competition, which included a prebuilt model of an oncoprotein, an onsite build of a protein and an exam portion.

“Together, our team of underclassmen successfully placed themselves above many students who were studying AP Biology and other upper division sciences,” said Carol Nicosia, high school Advanced Placement biology, general chemistry and science research teacher. “The students focused on the protein Ras, which is responsible for cell growth in normal cells and has also been found to be responsible in triggering cancer. In this competition, the judges decided to highlight its function in pancreatic cancer. Our team looks forward to going back next year with their new knowledge of the nature of the competition and their insights into protein biology.”