With help from the pros, Honors Bio students tackle big questions

How do you detect irony in someone’s voice? What part of a plant is best for vegetative propagation? What effect does a combination of alcohol and sleeping pills have on water fleas? 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 fifth year, Honors Bio students spent winter term immersed in their 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—R.L. parents and alumni who are also research scientists, pediatricians, surgeons, oncologists—in person or over Skype. 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, which were on exhibit after spring break. (See photos here)

Other research projects included the effects of music on reaction time and memory; the effects that the pH level in soil has on plants; and whether bacteria will evolve a resistance to UV light.

Special thanks to our generous mentors, who include:

Dr. Sandip Bose (P ’16, ’23), Research Scientist, Schlumberger

Dr. Margaret Crawford (P ’18, ’21), Framingham Pediatrics

Dr. Sirisha Emani (P ’17, ’22), Boston Children’s Hospital: Surgery

Dr. Andrew Eyre ’02, Brigham and Women’s Hospital: Emergency Medicine

Dr. Leonor Fernandez (P ’18, ’22), BIDMC: General Medicine

Dr. Ephraim Hochberg ’88, MGH: Oncology and Hematology

Mr. Tim Poterba ’09, Research Scientist, The Broad Institute

Dr. Merrill Weitzel (P ’16, ’18, ’20, ’22), Boston Children’s Hospital: Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Scot Wolfe (P ’15, ’18), UMASS Medical School: Molecular, Cell, and Cancer Biology