Though Science requirements for students at Regis have evolved over the years, some aspects of the curriculum have remained standard. Regians are required to complete laboratory-based introductory courses in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics their freshman, sophomore, and junior years. As seniors, students can choose from a variety of electives, including Advanced Biology, Advanced Chemistry, Advanced Physics, and Psychology. But today's Regian is also exposed to modern science technologies and equipment through clubs and activities that extend beyond the classroom. These opportunities encourage the understanding and exploration of science throughout a student's 4-year studies. The following reflections provide a window into the modern-day science curriculum at Regis.
Senior Will Kindschuh '13 has been working on the problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria since sophomore year when he began his research as part of his Science Research Project. His work has been published, and he has also been named a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search.
Will Kindschuh began volunteering in the lab of Dr. Carl Urban, an Infectious Disease Researcher at New York Hospital Queens (NYHQ), during the summer before his sophomore year. After combing through literature, Will noted that over the past few decades, the overuse and misuse of antibiotics has contributed to growing antibiotic resistance rates. He further noted that while much of the literature identified nursing homes, or long-term care facilities (LTCFs), as reservoirs of antibiotic resistance, substantive data from these institutions was lacking. Therefore, Will began to study the antibiotic resistance profiles of each bacterial isolate from a LTCF associated with NYHQ. He compiled data into an institution-wide antibiogram, which could be used by physicians to guide their antibiotic therapy choices. He then compared the LTCF antibiogram with that from NYHQ and found that there were significantly higher resistance rates among both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria at the LTCF. Will concluded that the LTCF needed an antibiotic-stewardship program consisting of a team of healthcare professionals responsible for reviewing and, if necessary, modifying antibiotic prescription choices and therapy lengths, in order to curb the rising resistance rates. Will presented his research in March 2011 at the American Medical Directors Association’s annual conference in Tampa Bay, Florida and received an honorable mention for his work. In April 2012, his work was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. In January 2013, he was named a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search
A few years ago, a group of Regis faculty members began teaching a more modern senior seminar class. The course serves as an English, Theology, and Science class. Below is a description of the course.
In an effort to provide additional enrichment for science students and opportunities to further integrate science with other disciplines, the Science department joined with the English and Theology departments in offering a new senior elective. The Senior Seminar is an interdisciplinary program, focused on the themes of Brain, Mind and Soul. Students accepted to the Seminar are expected to take a core of the three classes in Science, English and Theology and a fifth academic class of their choosing. Each member of the seminar designs (in consultation with a faculty member) an independent project according to his personal interest. Recent projects have included studies of the mechanisms of action of psychiatric medications, examining the relationship between Regis students' beliefs about free will and their academic integrity, a study of music and the brain and the brain and personality disorders. The seminar is an evolving enterprise, and Regis faculty hope to expand connections with other disciplines such as Mathematics and Fine Arts.
Recently, students took their science interests a step further and formed teams to compete in both the Science Bowl and the Science Olympiad. Both teams enjoyed tremendous success, earning the 2013 New School Regional Champion Award in the Science Olympiad, and placing second in the Science Bowl. Below is a reflection provided by Chris Hillenbrand '15.
On March 2, the Regis Science Bowl team earned a second place finish at the NYC Regional Science Bowl. The Science Bowl is a competition in which two four-student teams race to answer verbal questions in topics such as biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and mathematics. It is somewhat similar to Jeopardy in gameplay. Because we had never competed against other teams before the practice rounds, we were quite nervous. We were pleasantly surprised when we won all three. It was a sign that we had a chance to succeed. With our enthusiasm high, we fought our way through the seven rounds of the double-elimination tournament. On our way to the finals, we defeated teams from Brooklyn Tech, Scarsdale, Queens HS for the Sciences, and even Hunter College High School, which finished 4th in the nation in 2011 and ranked in the top 16 nationally just last year. Unfortunately, Hunter won all of its rounds in the losing bracket and consequently defeated us in the single-elimination final match. Encouraged by these results, the team plans to expand its membership and hold more frequent practices in the coming year.
Dr. Bill Carew has been augmenting the Advanced Biology program with a trip to the DNA Center. Students are able to perform three separate DNA experiments which are not possible on-site at Regis. The following reflection is offered by Adam D’Sa '13.
Last week I found out that I am part Ice Man. I accompanied twenty of my classmates in the advanced biology course to the DNA center in East Harlem. We stared at each other for thirty seconds, viciously gargling saltwater in our mouths, trying not to laugh. Then each of us spit our solutions simultaneously into plastic cups, along with millions of cheek cells containing billions of nucleotides. After these cells were thoroughly heat shocked, cooled, centrifuged, pipetted, and gel electrophoresed, we were each left with a polished strand of our own DNA. We were then able to compare our sequences. "Adam, we're brothers," my lab partner whispered unnervingly close to my ear. When I looked at our shared computer screen I saw that we had only four base pair differences, significantly below the average human difference of eight. (But since this was mitochondrial DNA, inherited maternally, brothers would in fact have zero.) When I compared my sequence to rainbow trout, sea otters, and Neanderthals, I had upwards of 30 differences. But in "Ötzi" the Ice Man’s DNA, only three base pairs differed from mine. Some used the DNA comparisons to try and determine their true heritages, others debated between the Out of Africa and Multiregional theories of human evolution, and some of us found that evolution has not brought us very far from our ancestors in the prehistoric Alps.
The Astronomy Club has been making excellent use of the new Regis telescopes generously funded during a past Parents’ Club Auction. The students have been photographing and observing the moon, the Sun, Jupiter, and Venus. Dominick Fulgieri '13 provided the reflection below.
The Astronomy Club has had a very successful past two years, and has expanded in scope and size. Hands-on telescope sessions with the club’s Celestron (telescope model) remain an essential facet of the club’s activities, and the addition of a mounted camera allows the club to photograph planets and the moon. Club members prove their devotion during these sessions which frequently require several hours of preparing the telescope, photographing celestial objects, and disassembly. After photographs are taken, students use a computational stacking mechanism to enhance picture quality. Although the light and air pollution of Manhattan lower the quality of the photographs, we are nevertheless able to compile clear images by stacking additional photographs, often in excess of a thousand, in the production of a single image. Students also use a solar telescope to view and photograph sunspots and other solar activity.
This article first appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of the Regis Alumni News Magazine.