Honors Bio Students Tackle Life Science Questions, With Help From the Pros

Does boiling garlic affect its antibiotic properties? Can Daphnia magna become habituated to caffeine? How well do ants detect nutrients in water sources? Should I eat my food after I drop it? Over the last couple of months, the Honors Biology students in Dr. Peter Hyde’s class were answering these ques­tions and more, with help from medical professionals and research scientists.

For the seventh year, Honors Bio students spent the winter term immersed in Inde­pendent Research Projects (IRP). Posing questions of their own scientific interest, the boys developed experiment proposals and turned to the professionals for real-time feedback, honing their approaches all the while. Even before the winter break, the students met with their IRP mentors—RL parents and alumni who are also research scientists, surgeons, hematologists, oncologists—in person or virtually. With the feedback from those sessions, the boys refined their experimental plans, and in January and February they collected their data. The IRP mentors then met with their mentees again to discuss the data and findings, and worked with the students on developing compelling presentations. In a typical year the students’ work culminates in a science fair-style event, in which faculty, staff, and fellow students can walk around perusing project posters and asking questions of the budding scientists. Due to COVID-19 and the need for RL to hold school remotely, the students instead submitted videos as the culminating presentation of their hard work. You can view each of those videos here.

Other research projects included the effects of increased CO2 levels on plant growth; the effect of light frequency/wavelength on the growth of Euglena gracilis; the effect of varying pH levels on the fermentation of yeast; and the response of crickets to the call of the Cuban tree frog.

Special thanks to our generous mentors, who include:

Eyal Attar (P’20), MD, Departments of Hematology and Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital

Henri Balaguera (P’20), MD, Department of Medicine, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center

Maureen Balaguera (P’20), MSN, RN, Operations, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Sirisha Emani (P’17, ‘22), PhD, Department of Surgery, Boston Children’s Hospital 

Carlos Estrada (P’20, ‘25), MD, Department of Surgery, Boston Children’s Hospital

Andrew Eyre ‘02, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Hani Houshyar (P’20, ‘22), PhD, Product Development and Commercialization, Biogen

Cynthia Morton (P’10), PhD, Department of Cytogenetics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Tim Poterba ‘09, BA, Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit, Broad Institute