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Stony Brook University Mentors Grand Prize-Winning Team for Second Time in Nine-Year History of Siemens Competition

Dec 6, 2007 - 10:43:56 AM

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STONY BROOK, N.Y., December 6, 2007 - Two Long Island students who spent the majority of their summer doing research in the Chemistry Lab of Professor Iwao Ojima at Stony Brook University, were selected as Grand Prize winners in the Team category of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, one of the premier high school science competitions in the United States. Janelle Schlossberger and Amanda Marinoff, both seniors at John F. Kennedy High School in Plainview-Old Bethpage, will share a $100,000 scholarship for their project FtsZ Inhibitors as Novel Chemotherapeutic Agents for Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis - a drug discovery project that could lead to the first new tuberculosis treatment in 35 years. It marks the second time in Siemens Competition history that the Grand Prize Winners in the Team Competition were mentored at Stony Brook University.

Iwao Ojima, Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry and Director of the Institute of Chemical Biology & Drug Discovery.
New York produced 19 regional finalists in the Siemens Competition, 14 of whom were mentored in labs at Stony Brook University, accounting for 74 per cent of the total; New York also had 56 semifinalists, 15 of whom were mentored in labs at Stony Brook University, accounting for 26 percent of the total. Sixteen of the students were mentored by Professor Miriam Rafailovich in the Department of Material Sciences & Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences who is one of the nation's leading mentors of research competition talent and brings talented students to Stony Brook University through the Garcia Polymers Research Scholars program. Nine of the students, including Ms. Schlossberger, were participants in Stony Brook's Simons Fellowship program, which gives academically talented, motivated high school students who are between their junior & senior years the opportunity to engage in hands-on research in science, math or engineering at Stony Brook University. Simons Fellows work with distinguished faculty mentors, learn laboratory techniques and tools, become part of active research teams, and experience life at a research university.

Ms. Schlossberger and Ms. Marinoff were mentored by a team of researchers that was organized and directed by Dr. Ojima, Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry and Director of the Institute of Chemical Biology & Drug Discovery at Stony Brook, and included Kunal Kumar, Graduate Student; Dr. Bela Ruzsicska, Director of the Analytical Instrumentation Laboratory; and Ilaria Zanardi, Senior Research Support Specialist.

"The opportunities provided by our extraordinary faculty researchers who give their time and resources to mentoring high school students exceed those of any university in the country," said Shirley Strum Kenny, President of Stony Brook University. "They are truly helping to develop these gifted young students into the scientists of tomorrow. Stony Brook is in effect their gateway into a lifetime of accomplishments in science.”

"Amanda and Janelle selected an extremely important and timely project for their research," said Dr. Ojima. "They selected the design and discovery of efficacious antibacterial drugs for treatment of drug-resistant TB, targeting a novel bacterial cell division protein, FtsZ. Multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB is a global public health threat. The drug candidates we worked together may offer a hope to control this challenging disease that has evaded scientists for years."

Ms. Marinoff is editor-in-chief of her school newspaper and a member of the National Honor Society, French Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Science Olympiad, and Increase the Peace. She volunteers at an after-school program for autistic children. Ms. Marinoff plans to study biology or chemistry and French in college and aspires to become a doctor with Doctors Without Borders. Ms. Schlossberger is president of her school's Science Honor Society, editor-in-chief of a district-wide literary and art magazine, and a member of Science Olympiad and French   Honor Society. An accomplished violinist and pianist, she was a finalist in the DuPont Challenge Science Essay Competition. Ms. Schlossberger is proficient in French and plans to study physics in college.

"We'd like to thank our mentors at Stony Brook, graduate student, Kunal Kumar" said Janelle Schlossberger during her acceptance remarks at the awards ceremony in New York City on Sunday, "and also Professor Ojima for providing us with the wonderful opportunity to work at his [sic] lab over the summer."

Janelle also thanked the Siemens Foundation, her parents and Amanda's parents for their support, their teacher, Mary Lou O'Donnell and the Research Program at Plainview-Old Bethpage and the integral role the School District played in their ability to be there.

SBU has contributed to produce hundreds of finalists and top 10 prize winners in high school competitions at national level, and annually ranks among the leaders in universities nationwide that mentor high school researchers. In 2001-02, while seniors at Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls in Hewlett Bay Park, NY, Shira Billet and Dora Sosnowik, mentored by Professor Rafailovich, were Grand Prize winners in the Team category, winning the $100,000 scholarship for their project, "A Viscometer for Ultra Thin Films." 

In addition to Drs. Ojima and Rafailovich, mentors of high school researchers this year awarded Siemens competition prizes included Professors Daniel Bluestein in the Department of Biomedical Engineering; Benjamin Chu and Carlos Simmerling in Chemistry; J. Craig Cohen and Marian Evinger in Pediatrics; Martin Rocek and Vasili Semenev in Physics & Astronomy; and Wei Zhu in Applied Math and Statistics. For a complete list of 2007-08 Siemens Competition finalists who were mentored at Stony Brook University, click on the link: www.stonybrook.edu/simons/siemens.htm


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© Stony Brook University 2013

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