Science Students and Teacher Recognized at Barcode Long Island Symposium

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High school students in the biotechnology research class and two seniors from the advanced research class presented their findings at the Barcode Long Island symposium, held at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on June 4.

Students presented their work to scientists as a culmination of their participation in the Barcode Long Island program, in which high school students and teachers gain an understanding of the crucial interdependence between humans and the natural environment. Funded by a Science Education Partnership Award through the National Institutes of Health, the program is a collaborative effort among Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, the American Museum of Natural History and the Cold Spring Harbor DNA Learning Center.

Throughout the school year, students worked on projects to uncover the biodiversity of spiders, zooplankton and algae in the local environment. The organisms that students identified through the DNA barcoding process will be published in a publicly available specimen database. The senior research students participated in the Barcode Long Island program as sophomores, and this year were afforded the opportunity to pilot a new technique. Chris Hueber and Kyle Nelson conducted an eDNA experiment. They collected and filtered water from various locations in the Great South Bay, then extracted DNA from cellular material that is left behind by organisms as they interact with the environment. This new technique uses next generation DNA sequencing and powerful computing programs to analyze a large volume of DNA sequences collected from the environment. At the symposium, Hueber and Nelson shared their initial findings with Dr. Bruce Nash, the assistant director for science at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center, who gave them advice for continuing data analysis.

During the symposium, West Islip science teacher Mary Kroll received an award recognizing her efforts as “Outstanding Mentor” for the 2018-2019 school year. Kroll was chosen from among the 25 teachers who participated in Barcode Long Island, who collectively mentored over 200 research students across Long Island. To be eligible to serve as a mentor, teachers received training and attended myriad related workshops to advance their own learning.