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Virtual Symposium Spotlights Student Research

april c. with name of research project  Matthew Murphy with project  keynote presents at science symposium

Seniors April Cerami and Matthew Murphy were featured presenters in the 3rd Annual Science Research Symposium. At right, Dr. Lisa Mangiamele presents research on animal behavior.

Oyster Bay High School’s 3rd Annual Science Research Symposium celebrated innovation and discovery as the District’s most passionate science students presented their research virtually, June 11. The evening was the culminating event for the District’s Advanced Placement (AP) Science Research Program. 


“Everything that you hear tonight is research that is literally expanding the sphere of human knowledge, said AP Science Research teacher Mr. Stephen Acquaro to an audience of nearly 70 people. “All of the projects are novel. That is one of the big tasks of the AP Science Research Program.”


Inspired by his curiosity about superbugs, senior Matthew Murphy presented his research on whether we could limit the spread of antibacterial resistance by utilizing both antibiotics and anti-bacterial viral strains to destroy bacteria before they can develop a resistance to either the virus or the antibiotic. His research, according to Mr. Acquaro, was “very elegant in design and if not for COVID, his project would have been a great example of scientific thinking.”


Senior April Cerami’s research examined the effects of sound pollution from boat traffic on mud snails. Sound pollution can adversely affect snail behavior, which can gravely impact the ecosystem at large. April, whose idea was sparked by the myth that if you sing to a snail it will come out of its shell, decided to test that notion by experimenting with noises produced by vessels on the water. Working with April for three years, Mr. Acquaro said April “is an exceptional student possessing all the great qualities of a scientist. She will make a fantastic Marine Biologist and will contribute to the global fight to save the world's oceans and the life it contains.” 


The evening also featured Keynote Speaker Dr. Lisa Mangiamele, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she teaches courses in physiology and neuroscience. As an integrative neurobiologist Dr. Mangiamele studies natural animal behaviors. In her presentation, which served as an example of the type of research students could expect to do as an undergraduate in college, she discussed how the nervous system in animals works to generate a specific behavior, such as survival instincts.  Dr. Mangiamele works in both the lab and the field; and has studied diverse animal species that live in Panama, Costa Rica, India, and Borneo.


The research of other students in the Science Research Program is featured in an Interactive Student Presentation via Flipgrid. Students explored topics related to sleep deprivation in athletes, vaping, stress, and social media, to name a few.


In her opening remarks, Ms. Janna Ostroff, K-12 Supervisor of Science and Technology for Instruction and coordinator of the event, said, “Never have the fields of science and technology been as important as they are today. Vaccines, artificial intelligence, digital learning, health care, they rely on their scientists, their programmers, their engineers,” she said, noting the importance of diversity and hearing all voices and all perspectives in the pursuit of excellence in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). She also thanked Mr. Acquaro, as well as Oyster Bay High School English language arts teacher Dr. Deirdre Faughey and science teaching assistant Ms. Maria Malzone for their support of the program.


The goal of the science research program is to enable students to develop higher-level skills in research and experimentation, while providing opportunities to work with distinguished faculty and scientists, and participate in science competitions. The District continually evaluates and enhances the rigor of its science curricula to meet the needs of students. The District currently offers Advanced Placement Research for juniors and seniors, and Honors Research for grades 9-12. Students also compete and have earned honors in local science competitions, such as the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair.