While most students spend the summer relaxing and taking a break from academics, Annie Cao, a rising junior of Holmdel High School, has done quite the opposite.
Cao spent two and a half weeks of her summer doing research as a part of the Waksman Institute at Rutgers University, a program with which the Holmdel High School Science department has had a long-standing relationship.
As a part of the Honors Advanced Research course offered at Holmdel High, she was able to expand her knowledge and build on her skills through this high level program.
According to Supervisor of Science and Math Alicia Killean, this program has been a part of the honors course for many years.
The program allows the participants to conduct original research and analyze segments of DNA that have never before been analyzed. Additionally, when the research is successful, it is published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information database.
“When the scientific world goes to NCBI and references these clones they will write that our students are the first authors,” said Holmdel High School teacher, Dr. Josephine Blaha.
When Cao returns to school next month, she will serve as a teaching assistant to Dr. Blaha in the Honors Advanced Research course.
“Our partnership with the Waksman Institute has been a tremendous boon for our Honors Advanced Research class over the years,” said Holmdel High Principal William Loughran. “In addition to the research opportunity, the summer institute gives us the opportunity to cultivate student leaders who can then transfer their knowledge and skills to other students in the class,” he explained.
According to teachers of Holmdel High School, programs such as these allow students to pursue their interests in the academic world.
“Our district is so fortunate for teachers like Dr. Blaha who encourage students to pursue rigorous opportunities to challenge themselves and gain real-world experience,” said Holmdel Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Dineen Seeley. “As a rising junior at HHS, she is already an accomplished researcher!”