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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lehman gets girls stuck on science

By Sarina Trangle
Posted
MARISOL DÍAZ/THE RIVERDALE PRESS
Shanice Smellie, left, and Amanda Simon, both DeWitt Clinton High School seniors, discuss their scientific research at Lehman College on Dec. 19.

Kimberly Rodriguez, a Riverdalian and senior at IN-Tech Academy, MS/HS 368, helped Lehman College Professor Ryan Raaum analyze 300 surveys of Swahili-speakers in Kenya in order to understand their settlement habits. 

“It was challenging and rigorous –– a lot of time dedication. I had to put info into nearly 1,000 cells in Excel. But overall it was an accomplishment,” Kimberly said, noting that the study suggests that its subjects are equally likely to move near a woman’s family as near a man’s after a couple has children. 

“Different studies show some cultures locate more with the dad and some locate more with the mom. So we didn’t have any expectation,” she said. 

Natasha Reynoso, a Kingsbridge resident, has been counting cells in sections of the prefrontal cortex of the brain. She and two of her Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics classmates will later compare tallies with others to see if the brains of schizophrenic humans have more cells in certain areas. 

DeWitt Clinton High School seniors Amanda Simon and Shanice Smellie studied what happens when the two planted magnets beside radish seeds in the City University of New York’s Lehman College greenhouse.

All these students are participants in the Lehman’s Women in Science program, which admitted its first group of seven high school seniors over the summer and was spearheaded by Lehman professors Liesl Jones and Ayanna Alexander-Street. They said they started the free initiative in order to encourage more women to enter the sciences. 

Students enrolled in a biology course at the college over the summer. After the lectures, the group met with Ms. Jones and Ms. Alexander-Street to begin crafting research projects. Scientists from several disciplines discussed their work with the students and invited them to tour their research labs, where the girls learned about everything from how stem cells can help reconstruct damaged eyes to the behavior of prairie dogs. 

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