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Academy Scientific JUNE 2013



Space Issue










Academy Scientific Editors-in-Chief Simran Arjani and David Heller Features Co-Editors Anna Radakrishnan and Ana Song World News Co-Editors Ji-Sung Kim and Lexi Lerner School News Co-Editors Joanna Kim and Serena Tharakan Layout Editor Lucia Tu Photography Editor Sarah Joseph Webmaster Joshua Meier Distribution Coordinator Esther lee

Bergen County Academies 200 Hackensack Avenue Hackensack, NJ 07601 (201) 343-6000 www.bergen.org 2 | ACADEMY SCIENTIFIC VOL 3.1

{On the front cover}: MESSIER NEBULA from STScI {On the back cover}: EARTHRISE from William Anders, NASA {On the next page, clockwise from top left}: SOHO/ LASCO consortium, STScI, ESO/M. Kornmesser and N. Risinger


clockwise from top left


Solar Storms WORLD NEWS

5 6 7

From the Editors

by Simran Arjani, David Heller LETTER FROM THE EDITORS

Space-Based Solar Power by Joshua Meier WORLD NEWS

A Vaccine for a Deadly Global Disease by Alexis Lerner WORLD NEWS



Lutetia is the 1%

Hubble Telescope



8 9 10

China’s Rising Emergence in the Space Race by Ji-Sung Kim


A Livelier Past

by Steven Kwon WORLD NEWS

A Vaccine for a Deadly Global Disease by Ji-Sung Kim WORLD NEWS


14 16 18 20 22 24 26

Is There Life in Space? by Radhika Malhotra FEATURES


Interview with Mr. Paul by Anna Radakrishnan STAFF SPOTLIGHT

by David Heller


Cosmology According to the Hubble Space Telescope by Simran Arjani


BCA Math Team Wins Big at NAT Math Startup by Lauren Lee


BCA Math Team Holds Its 9th Annual Math Competition by Radhika Malhotra

The High Life FEATURES


Lutetia is the 1% by Michelle Guo FEATURES

by Janice Sung


Student Researchers: Jennifer Chan, Brianna Pereira, Josh Meier, Dan Radin


Demystifying Salmonella in Space FEATURES


Interview with Jordan Silver by Michelle Guo



Ms. Caroccia: Welcome Addition to Staff by Michelle Guo




Duke Math Meet

by Radhika Malhotra SCHOOL NEWS

BCA 2010-2011 Awards Listing SCHOOL NEWS

FROM THE EDITORS In the fall of 2010, junior Aishwarya Raja founded Academy Scientific, the first scientific publication at the Bergen County Academies. With the help of numerous interested and committed students, she was able to compose Issue 1.1, “The Cancer Issue,” which laid the foundation for what future issues of Academy Scientific continue to be based upon. Today, she has left that passion and those high standards in our hands. Before their graduation, the editors of the original magazine showed twelve of us what it took to imagine, write, edit and compose. We have taken their lessons and advice to heart and are ready to fill their shoes. Anna Radakrishnan and Ana Song are the two Features Editors, and they have limitless enthusiasm for their articles. Ji-Sung Kim and Lexi Lerner are the two World News Editors, both of whom are remarkably thorough and precise in their work. Serena Tharakan and Joanna Kim are the School News Editors, bringing a unique, vital perspective to the team from the viewpoint of BCA students. In addition to the editorial positions, Lucia Tu and Sarah Joseph—heads of Layout and Photography, respectively—have very successfully taken over their positions with incredible interest. New additions this year include Webmaster for our Academy Scientific website, Joshua Meier, and Distribution and Publication Manager, Esther Lee, each of whom have worked tremendously well with every member of the team. As for the Editors-in-Chief, we are honored to have been given this opportunity. Each issue that is completed is a testament to the immeasurable effort put in by the founders of Academy Scientific. We only seek to move forward along the path set forth during the magazine’s inception. Our goal with Academy Scientific has always been to allow Bergen County Academies students—many of whom have intense passions in vast areas of science—to present an ever-changing world in a way that people of all scientific backgrounds and personal interests can understand. This magazine seeks to take areas of science not often taught in traditional high school settings (topics such as cancer research, nanotechnology, astronomy, etc.) and to thoroughly investigate and present their importance. Not only is each issue devoted to a specific subtopic, but it is also divided further into Features, World News, and School News sections. Our team aims to give readers an intensive and comprehensive background on the featured topic. The Academy Scientific team works to portray these subtopics in a clear and intriguing format that we hope will entice even the least scientifically-inclined readers. From all of us on the Academy Scientific Team (editors, mentors, writers, teachers and advisors), we hope you find our work compelling and that you are able to gain insight into a scientific field after being exposed to our magazine. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future issues, please feel free to contact our Editors-in-Chief.*

Simran Arjani simarj@bergen.org

David Heller

davhel@bergen.org editors-in-chief

*As a testament to the immense work put into the Space Issue’s articles, (which were started by Aishwarya and her team in the spring of 2012) the current team has kept all articles and awards (even those slightly outdated) as they were during the initial creation of the issue.


WORLD NEWS Space-based Solar Power: The Future of Energy? + joshua meier, aast 2014

Sunlight is reflected off giant orbiting mirrors to an array of photovoltaic cells; the light is converted to electricity and then changed into microwaves, which are beamed to earth. Ground-based antennas capture the microwave energy and convert it back to electricity, which is sent to the grid. SOURCE: NEW SCIENTIST

Space-based solar power (SBSP), a new technology to generate and deliver energy, has been in development since the early 1970s. On the surface, SBSP seems to be particularly useful and more efficient at harnessing solar power than current methods. Collecting sunlight in space, where the amount or intensity of generated energy is not affected by the time of day or the weather, seems to be a revolutionary method of capturing energy and has the potential to be utilized globally. After all, there is no reason to pursue other methods of generating energy if effectively limitless amounts of power could be harvested from space without any environmental drawbacks. This was the mindset of Peter Glass when he developed this concept over four decades ago. On November 14th, 2011, John C. Mankins, a former manager of the Advanced Concepts Studies Office of Space Flight for NASA and one of the world’s leading experts on SBSP, affirmed that an SBSP system capable of meeting the needs of millions of people could 6 | ACADEMY SCIENTIFIC VOL 3.1

be “deployed within a decade using technologies that are in the laboratory today.” SBSP systems would be typically composed of satellites that have the ability to collect solar power in space via solar cells or a heat engine. These satellites would transfer energy to Earth using microwaves or lasers. The waves would then be collected on Earth through rectennas, a special type of antenna used to directly convert microwave energy into electricity. These rectennas could be composed of a mesh substance, rather than bulky panels, and would not have a negative impact on the surrounding environment. This energy transfer would not harm humans or wildlife that passed beneath. One concern often voiced in relation to this technology and space exploration in general is the high cost of such programs in terms of creating the machinery and transporting it to space. Mankins suggests that a pilot demonstration could be launched for $10 billion and generate ten megawatts of electricity in ten years, a production rate comparable to small terrestrial solar panels today. “The consensus is that SPSB is technically achievable. But because of Mankin’s new approach, it appears the model will be economically viable in a much shorter time frame than previously thought possible,” said Mark Hopkins, the Senior Vice President of the National Space Society. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Energy has previously suggested that sending solar-collecting satellites to space would continue to be prohibitively expensive and that only 1% of global energy would be derived from space-based projects by 2035. Mankins argues, however, that these concerns are usually rooted in the high cost of transportation. He believes that although SBSP cannot become the mainstream source of energy anytime soon, it is definitely in the foreseeable future. Demonstrations can be shown using a pilot system “without the development of a new reusable launch system,” but rather using existing vehicles such as the Falcon Heavy, Falcon 9, or Delta IV heavy. A successful pilot plant program could spark interest in this technology and sufficient demand could support the development of low-cost reusable launch systems. Other nations such as China have also shown a growing

interest in SPSB. The Chinese space technology expert, Xiji Wang said in August, “The development of a solar power station in space will fundamentally change the way in which people exploit and obtain power. He noted, “Whoever takes the lead in the development and utilization of clean and renewable energy and the space and aviation industry will be the world leader.”

Although space-based solar power remains a sound theoretical idea, many hurdles must first be overcome before space can truly provide for all of our power needs. Although economic, technical, and political issues must first be resolved, this technology has the potential to grant us an unlimited supply of power and transform life as we know it.

A Vaccine for the Ebola Virus Disease + alexis lerner, aast 2014

An Electron Micrograph picture of the Ebola Virus.


Ebola virus disease (EVD) is an incurable disease endemic to Africa that affects humans and other primates. It was first identified in 1976, and its name was derived from the location of its first outbreak, a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). EVD transmission mainly occurs through the sharing of bodily fluids or objects, such as needles that have been exposed to these infected fluids. It also occurs through nosocomial transmission, which is the spread and amplification of a disease within a health-care setting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The incubation period of EVD is from two to twenty-one days, and its manifestation is often abrupt and unforeseen. Common symptoms include fever, headache, aches, and weakness; as the disease progresses, however, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pains, and external bleeding may occur before death. There is no treatment for EVD; only supportive therapy can be provided at the onset of the disease. There are five distinct species that cause EVD and hemorrhagic fever, all belonging to the genus Ebolavirus. These five species are Ebola-Zaire, Ebola-Taï Forest, Ebola-Bundibugyo, Ebola Reston (limited to nonhuman primates), and Ebola-Sudan. The first major outbreak of Ebola-Sudan, also known as Sudan ebolavirus or SEBOV, occurred in 1976 among cotton factory workers in

The geographic projections of ecologic niche models of Ebola virus species in Africa. Darker shades of red represent increasing confidence in prediction of potential presence. SOURCE: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION


Nzara, Sudan. The zoological origin of SEBOV is ambiguous, but its effects have been catastrophic. There have been five significant outbreaks since 2011, one of which took the lives of more than two hundred people. The fatality rates of these outbreaks range from 41% to 100%, but the total number of cases is most likely much higher because many cases are left unreported. SEBOV has been classified as a Select Agent, World Health Organization Risk Group 4 Pathogen, National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Category A Priority Pathogen, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Category A Bioterrorism Agent. Needless to say, a solution to this virus, whether it is a cure or a vaccine, is desperately needed. This solution may finally be within our reach. The findings of a study published in Nature on November 20, 2011, could serve as the key to unlocking a SEBOV vaccine. In an article entitled “A Shared Structural Solution for Neutralizing Ebolaviruses”, research scientists from the Scripps Research Institute and the US Army’s Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases isolated the antibody 16F6 and analyzed how it neutral-

izes SEBOV. 16F6 binds to two parts of SEBOV’s coat protein, rendering the virus virtually immobile and unable to infect cells. 16F6 is similar to a previously discovered antibody that uses a protein-linking strategy to neutralize Ebola-Zaire, so this method has great potential. Unfortunately, this common method of protein-linking may be coincidental and may not work when trying to solve the mystery of the other Ebolavirus species. Ollmann Saphire, one of the scientists who conducted the study, said, “These species differ enough from each other that neutralizing antibodies to one don’t protect against the rest. Sudan virus is a particular concern because it has caused about half of the ebolavirus outbreaks so far, including the largest outbreak recorded.” However, when referring to the antibody that was proven to neutralize Ebola-Zaire three years ago, Saphire noted, “We think it’s not just a coincidence that these two different antibodies, evoked in two different host species by two different ebolaviruses, use the same strategy of linking.” Hopefully, antibody 16F6 can bring us closer to a vaccine for all strains of EVD and save thousands, if not millions, of lives.

China’s Rising Emergence in the Space Race + ji-sung kim, aast 2014

pan, China, India, South Korea are among the nations who have rapidly expanding space programs. China has been especially driven in the development of their space program, spending billions in satellites and spacecraft. China’s space program has been a heavy contender in challenging NASA’s longtime supremacy in space development.

The Chinese previously launched the Yinghuo-1, a Chinese Mars orbiter, and the BeiDou-Compass, a satellitenavigation project. Furthermore, the Chinese national government aims to be able to match the concrete feat that defined 1969: their objective is to place a man on the moon, as the United States once did in decades past. Meanwhile, the United States government cancelled the Jing Haipeng, one of the astronauts for the Shenzhou-7 Constellation program, eliminating with it the dream of letmanned spacecraft, enters the cabin during a drill for the launch ting man step once more on lunar ground. of the Shenzhou-7 manned spacecraft at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province, on August 31, 2008. In late October, China launched the Shenzhou 8, an unSOURCE: REUTERS/STRINGER

In 1969, the United States was the unequivocal champion of the fiery space race. No other country could match it in terms of space development and technology. Eight years earlier, in 1961, John F. Kennedy issued a bold statement, daring to set an extraordinary goal unrivaled in its ambition and hope. On July 20,1969, his challenge manifested itself in the first steps of Neil Armstrong on the Moon. Since its apex in 1969, NASA, the United States’ space program, has waned in terms of its commitment and general purpose. Other foreign space programs have risen over time, filling the vacuum NASA has left. Ja8 | ACADEMY SCIENTIFIC VOL 3.1

manned spacecraft in hopes of building a working space station in the future (Amos). The spacecraft successfully attached to the Tiangong-1, a Chinese space lab, demonstrating future capabilities of sustaining a space station. The mission substantiated spacecraft docking technology and research for the Chinese space agency. Two similar missions are planned for 2012 with space craft unambiguously named Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10. By 2020, China hopes to construct a 60-ton space station. Although lighter and smaller than the ISS, which weighs at about 400 tons, the space station could expand and grow to rival the ISS. China’s recent foray into the field of space development is not surprising, considering the country’s desires to mod-

ernize and expand in diverse areas of technology. The increased spending and recent launch of the Shenzhou 8 seems to be China’s proud gesture to their advances in technology. On the other hand, the United States’ space budget has declined since John F. Kennedy’s presidency. Current NASA projects include the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and a Mars rover, but the projects pale in comparison to Chinese space projects in terms of drive and innovation. If the Chinese space program grows, there may be conflicts of interest between China and ISS-bound nations. Helium-3, a valuable material used in the fields of medical treatment, diagnostics, national security, and oil mining, has been scant on Earth, and stockpiles are dwindling. Helium-3 is critical in the detection of nuclear weapons and oil, and is key in diagnosing cancer. Fortunately, it has been found to exist in large quantities on the Moon. China will be up against the United States in the countries’ quests for Helium-3. Military conflicts may also occur if China’s growth in space, a growing area for militarization and missile detection, continues. The rapid expansion and impressive growth of the Chinese space program is welcomed by many looking for increased research in space. However, it highlights the slow decline of the United States program and may lead to clashes in the future.

A Chinese soldier stands beside Long March II-F rocket loaded with China’s unmanned space module Tiangong-1 at the launch pad in the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province, on September 28, 2011. SOURCE: REUTERS/STRINGER

A Livelier Past

+ steven kwon, aast 2014 deposited by water, corroborating the theory that water may in fact exist on Mars. As Steve Squyres, the principal investigator for Opportunity, proclaims, “This tells a slam-dunk story that water flowed through underground fractures in the rock…It’s the kind of thing that makes geologists jump out of their chairs.”

This color view of a mineral vein called “Homestake” comes from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. The vein is about the width of a thumb and about 18 inches (45 centimeters) long. Opportunity examined it in November 2011 and found it to be rich in calcium and sulfur, possibly the calcium-sulfate mineral gypsum. SOURCE: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/CORNELL/ASU

The discovery of gypsum, the material used for making plaster and drywall, has recently shown to be a crucial next step for human space exploration. Opportunity, a NASA Mars rover launched in 2003, found veins of gypsum on a crater named Endeavour. The discovery holds great significance as gypsum mineral veins are

While the mere presence of gypsum on Mars is not completely new, this specific discovery is far more significant due to its location. Past findings of gypsum or other “water-precursor” minerals have been dunes and sand formations, which were constantly moved by wind before they were uncovered. However, the origins of such minerals have remained a mystery. The vein, which was informally named “Homestake,” is the first of its kind that tells exactly where the mineral originated, giving another clue as to where the existing reservoirs of water may have lain. This deposit was most likely created from water dissolving calcium from volcanic rocks. When sulfur from the volcanic rocks or gas was mixed with the calcium, the compound calcium sulfate was deposited underground, remaining there for centuries. Although findings indicated a more acidic environment in the past, this highly concentrated compound at Homestake also suggests that conditions may have been more neutral and less acidic than was previously thought. As ACADEMY SCIENTIFIC VOL 3.1 | 9

Benton Clark, a member of the Opportunity scienceteam, explains, “It could have formed in a different type of water environment, one more hospitable for a larger variety of living organisms.” Such an environment may have once housed extraterrestrial life. Clues to previous water deposits may indicate existing sources of water. If water were to be found on Mars, as it

is highly speculated, the planet would become an entirely new frontier for human colonization. Though national governments have looked largely to the Moon for their hopes of outer space colonization, Mars may become the new strongest candidate. As the rover continues to search for more discoveries, scientists can only hope for more clues that reveal a livelier past.

Solar Storms

+ ji-sung kim, aast 2014

Upcoming solar storms may prove to be extremely destructive for global populations. Solar storms, or extended periods of solar activity, have been predicted to occur within the next decade. These storms are generally spurred by ever changing space weather. Generally varying with the 11-year sunspot cycle, space weather is connected to the sun. The more sunspots there are on the sun, the more storms appear and the more voluminous the solar wind is. Solar wind refers to the stream of charged particles that blow off the face of the sun. We are on the way to the next solar maximum, which is expected to peak next year. The maximum coincides with an increase in two kinds of “space weather”. In one, solar flares hurl protons and electrons almost at

the speed of light. This acceleration produces X-rays that radiate into space, which can disrupt short-wave communication on Earth. The sun can also spew billion-ton clouds of plasma and their associated magnetic fields. Moving at more than 1 million mph, some of these “coronal mass ejections” (CMEs), which are more noxious than solar flares, may arrive at the surface of the Earth in only a few days. CMEs can hit Earth’s magnetic field 1 million miles wide, and disturb the balances of trapped particles in the Van Allen radiation belts and elsewhere within the boundaries of Earth’s magnetic field. Some scientists stipulate these weather abnormalities to cause the collapse of civilization. Solar storms, which incite widespread fear in the scientific population, have the

A satellite such as the Hubble Space Telescope (pictured) could be disabled by a solar megastorm. SOURCE: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/CORNELL/ASU


ability to permanently cripple and disable satellites along with electrical grids. With society’s symbiotic bond with technology and electricity to function and exist, the loss of electricity could incite riots and cause the deaths of many. Hospitals without power could eventually lose the use of backup generators, and without power, be unable to treat the sick and injured. Furthermore, long-term satellite damage could spark war between countries due to the disruptions caused by the solar flares. Solar storms could also cause nuclear

explosions, as reactors would overheat due to the lack of electricity-powered cooling. Events such as the recent Fukushima nuclear disaster could occur with greater numbers of human deaths. Predicting solar storms and monitoring the activity of the sun has been one of NASA’s goals, but the current satellite suited for prediction is incapable of predicting larger solar storms. If “mega” solar storms are to occur, as predicted by NASA, they will cause global chaos.

REFERENCES + A VACCINE FOR A DEADLY GLOBAL DISEASE Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ebola​Hemorrhagic Fever Information Packet 2010. Dias, Joao M., et al. “A Shared Structural Solution for Neutralizing Ebolaviruses.” Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 18.12 (2011): 1424-27. Nature. Web. 2013. Scripps Research Institute. “Weak Spot Discovered on Deadly Ebolavirus.” Science Daily, Nov. 20, 2011. Web. + CHINA’S RISING EMERGENCE IN THE SPACE RACE Amos, Jonathan. “China’s Unmanned Shenzhou 8 Capsule Returns to Earth.” BBC News. 17 Nov. 2011: n. page. Web. Amos, Jonathan. “Chinese Shenzhou Craft Launches on Key Space Mission.” BBC News. 31 Oct. 2011: n. page. Web. NASA. “Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Estimate.” 2011. PDF file. “NASA Announces Design for New Deep Space Exploration System.” NASA. N.p., 14 Sept. 2011. Web. “NASA Launches Most Capable and Robust Rover to Mars.” NASA. N.p., 26 Nov. 2011. Web. + A LIVELIER PAST “’Slam Dunk’ Sign of Ancient Water on Mars.” NASA. N.p., 8 Dec. 2011. Web. + SOLAR STORMS “Solar Megastorm Could Cripple Satellites.” National Geographic. 20 Sep. 2011. Web. “What If the Biggest Solar Storm on Record Happened Today?” National Geographic. 2 Mar. 2011. Web.


This most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire. HAMLET, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (C. 1600)

{Source: Public Domain} 12 | ACADEMY SCIENTIFIC VOL 3.1

IN THIS FEATURE 14 Is There Life in Space?

16 The High Life

18 Cosmology According

to the Hubble Space Telescope 20 Lutetia is the 1%

22 Demystifying Salmonella


Is There Life in Space? + radhika malhotra, amst 2014

This is an artist’s concept of the New Horizons spacecraft as it visits Pluto in 2015. Instruments will map Pluto and its moon, Charon, providing detail not only about the surface of the dwarf planet, but also its shape.This could reveal whether or not an ocean lies beneath its ice. SOURCE: NASA/JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORY/SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE

The debate over whether or not life exists beyond Earth’s parameters has been prevalent for years. With arguments about UFO and alien sightings circling, millions of people have contemplated the existence of extraterrestrial life. Just recently, in September of 2011, Pluto was theorized to be hiding a liquid ocean underneath its icy shell. While the surface of the dwarf planet has temperatures that are normally around -230oC, it has


been speculated whether or not there is any internal heat present to produce a liquid ocean. Guillaume Robuchon and Francis Nimmo of the University of California in Santa Cruz both agree that there is a good chance of a liquid ocean actually existing. The researchers say that the ocean’s existence would depend solely on two things: the amount of radioactive potassium in Pluto’s core

and the fluidity of the ice that covers the ocean. However, even a source of internal heat from the core is not enough to maintain an ocean. While the core’s heat could trigger convection in the surrounding ice, if the ice churns too quickly, the heat will escape into space before it can begin to melt the ice. NASA’s New Horizons probe, which is set to fly past Pluto in 2015, is planning to image Pluto’s physical shape to gain more information about this possible ocean. NASA’s discovery of an extreme life form, or an “ex-

bama, stated, “The existence of microorganisms in these harsh environments suggests, but does not promise, that we might one day discover similar life forms in the glaciers or permafrost of Mars or in the ice crust and oceans of Jupiter’s moon Europa.” Space exploration is one of the most promising fields of science and definitely a field that has yet to be explored thoroughly. Research is being pursued to ensure that definitive answers can be found for the questions of not only scientists, but

NASA’s discovery of an extreme life form, or an “extremophile,” also raises hopes of finding life beyond Earth. tremophile,” also raises hopes of finding life beyond Earth. Extremophiles are life forms that flourish in conditions that prove to be hostile to most known living organisms. Hoover, a researcher at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala-

all those who wonder if a second Earth exists. Hopefully with the promising technology of the New Horizons probe by NASA, life beyond planet Earth can become a solidified idea rather than a wishful theory.

Geysers similar to those found on Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, could be revealed on Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft. SOURCE: NASA/DAVID SEAL

references Grossman, Lisa. “Pluto’s Icy Exterior May Conceal an Ocean.” 16 September 2011. Newscientist.com. New Scientist Magazine, Web. Roy, Steve. “NASA Astrobiologist Identifies New ‘Extreme’ Life Form.” Nasa.gov. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 23 February 2005. Web.


The High Life:

becoming an astronaut

+ david heller, amst 2014 Many of us dream of what it would be like to journey to the outer regions of space, to explore the unimaginable to become an astronaut. However, what many of us do not realize is how much time and dedication is required to be able to have that opportunity. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has compiled an extensive astronaut candidate selection process, which outlines the basic qualifying requirements to be considered an astronaut. One of the most prominent required aspects for the selection is the candidate’s previous education. In order

the selection process. They require the candidate to have both distant and near vision correctable to 20/20 in each eye, a blood pressure that does not exceed 140/90 when in a resting position, and a height between 62 and 75 inches. This portion of the examination was created for safety purposes. All NASA space shuttles contain equipment that can prove harmful to anyone who does not meet the requirements of the physical examination. As a result, many candidates lose their eligibility in this portion alone. After passing the physical exam, candidates go through an application process including one-

One of the most prominent required aspects for the selection is the candidate’s previous education. to be considered, one must have a bachelor’s degree in either engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics. This degree must be followed by at least three additional years of professional experience working in the candidate’s respective field, or 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time working a jet aircraft. These first two steps in the process, which can total seven years of preliminary fulfillment, lead the candidate into what is known as the “NASA Long-Duration Space Flight Physical”. These tests assess the person’s physical requirements, which must be met in order to continue on with


on-one interviews and additional medical exams. This is the last step in the preliminary selection, and those chosen after this are now designated as Astronaut Candidates. The number of candidates chosen depends on certain aspects that NASA must consider. This may include the type of missions that will take place, the intensity and duration of the missions, as well as the amount of personnel currently working for the crew. Those chosen are designated Astronaut Candidates will work for the next two years at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Here they will participate in a training program

that will develop the knowledge of each specific astronaut in their designated field or specialty. Additional tests will also be conducted including daily weightlessness training, swimming tests, and more science-specific computer tests based upon the astronaut’s area of expertise. All of these examinations culminate in the candidate’s formal training, which includes rigorous courses in how to appropriately operate the machinery in the space shuttle. Those who prove their advanced abilities in the formal training assessments will be chosen as the crew for subsequent missions. Others may be used as alternates and will perform specific tasks on the shuttle before launch and in the command center during the mission. While successful completion

of the aforementioned requirements and classes will earn a candidate a spot on NASA’s astronaut crew, additional physical and educational requirements may be added in order to choose the most appropriate candidates for the positions. Due to the competitiveness in becoming a NASA worker, whether as an astronaut, chemical engineer, geophysicist, or another position, much prestige is earned when holding that specific job title. After all, people spend more than a decade of their lives training to even be considered. As a result, the select few who were willing to put forth the absolute dedication and effort to become an astronaut are the ones who are lucky enough to fly higher than the rest.

Space Food:

dinner is served

Spending months aboard a cramped space shuttle becomes slightly more difficult when you are forced to eat freezedried protein cubes, such as those John Glenn (the first person to eat in space) gnawed on in orbit in the 1960s. Fortunately for today’s astronauts, food options onboard the International Space Station have increased ten-fold. The main difference between a meal 15 feet away from your refrigerator and one 15 miles above the surface of the Earth is the accuracy with which food items are analyzed, sampled, and stored. Nine months of preparation goes into choosing the most nutritional,

convenient, and delicious food items available for what can be more than a yearlong excursion. Choices may include macaroni and cheese, shrimp cocktail, scrambled eggs, coffee, teas, juices, etc. Analysts will take the astronauts’ menu choices and create an eight-day food cycle that will give each voyager 100 percent of their necessary daily vitamin and mineral intake. Although many cringe at the thought of space food, refrigeration and containment advances aboard space shuttles have given today’s space-explorers wellrounded, tasteful menus to choose from!

references “Astronaut Selection and Training.” NASA. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2011. Web. “How To Become An Astronaut 101.” NASA Human Space Flight. NASA, 7 Apr. 2002. Web. “NASA Facts - Space Food.” NASA.gov. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, October 2002. Web. {Source: Robert L. Gibson, NASA} ACADEMY SCIENTIFIC VOL 3.1 | 17

Cosmology Hubble Space Telescope according to the

+ simran arjani, amst 2014

Hubble, launched into space in 1990, is a telescope to rival all others and is the focus of the longest lasting NASA mission. Its position outside the atmosphere allows it to produce images of the near and distant galaxies with impeccable accuracy. There is no atmospheric gas, through which land telescopes have to view space, to obscure pictures and skew data extrapolated from it. Over its two decades in orbit, Hubble has sent back hundreds of thousands of images, proving or disproving many theories about space. In December 1993, seven astronauts were sent on a five-day mission to repair Hubble and install improved lenses that will allow the telescope to produce incredible pictures of objects light-years away. This telescope has provided scientists with information about everything from the age of the universe since the Big Bang to possible

billion years old with the aid of this instrument. The Hubble telescope has revealed many other secrets in cosmology. It has discovered and, in some cases, explained massive black holes, dark energy, protoplanetary disks, galaxies, and stars. Scientists can determine the brightness of the stars from images taken by Hubble and calculate their relative distances from Earth. Hubble also discovered that clumps of gas surround newly created stars and took images of the gamma-ray bursts, which stars give off at the end of their lives when they collapse. Also, after absorbing all of the light emitted from one area for ten days, the Hubble telescope was able to supply a picture of over 3,000 galaxies of all different shapes, sizes, and densities. It provided pictures of our universe in multiple stages of development. Another major discovery made by Hubble imag-

This telescope has provided scientists with information about everything from the age of the universe since the Big Bang to possible theories for its expanion and pending death. theories for its expansion and pending death. The age of the universe, which had previously been predicted to be between 10 and 20 billion years, has now been narrowed down to 13.7


ing was that of black holes. First called quasars, black holes were thought to be simply points of light, easily the brightest thing discovered. Hubble imaging has shown that large galaxies have

powerful black holes at their centers, and they might indeed be the reason for the galaxies’ existence. Furthermore, Hubble images of supernovae have shown the increasing rate of expansion of the universe, which some scientists connect to the universe’s eventual “death”. There are two contrasting predictions for how this expansion will lead to the death of the universe. The first is that the expansion rate will slow to a point in which

the universe will start to contract in a sudden inward motion called the “crunch”, and effectively die. The second is that the universe will continue to expand until it can no longer support itself. The information provided by this telescope has given support to more than 6,000 articles published about space from a wide array of topics. Future advancement in telescope technology is endless.

The deeper Hubble sees into space, the farther it gazes back in time. This chart illustrates the regions that have fallen under Hubble’s eye. SOURCE: HUBBLE’S DATA PIPELINE – HUBBLE SITE

references “The Hubble Story Introduction.” NASA. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Web. “The Hubble Story History.” NASA. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Web.

{Source: Fanpop.com} ACADEMY SCIENTIFIC VOL 3.1 | 19

Lutetia is the 1% a rocky remnant of Earth + michelle guo, amst 2013 How could an asteroid, composed of the same original material that formed the Earth, have escaped from the inner solar system and moved into the asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter? This is the question being considered by scientists from French and North American universities as they deduce the composition of the asteroid Lutetia using a large range of wavelengths. They have combined data from various instruments, including the OSIRIS camera on

much closer to the Sun. According to the Big Bang Theory of the formation of Earth, our solar system was created around five billion years ago when a cloud of interstellar dust and gases collapsed and condensed. A 62 mile diameter asteroid, Lutetia may have escaped the fate of similar asteroids that were incorporated into the forming young planets. The most current hypothesis states that Lutetia may have been tossed out from the inner solar system as it passed close to one of the rocky plan-

The most current hypothesis states that Lutetia may have been tossed out from the inner solar system as it passed close to one of the rocky planets and had its orbit substantially changed. ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, European Southern Observatory (ESO)’s New Technology Telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii, and Spitzer Space Telescope. This data was used to compare Lutetia with meteorites found on Earth. The findings show that only one type of meteorite, the enstatite chondrite, matches Lutetia’s spectrum. Enstatite chondrites are believed to be composed of material that is formed close to the Sun, and at one point, the major components of the rocky planets. What makes Lutetia important is that it seems to have formed not in the main belt of asteroids, where it is now, but


ets and had its orbit substantially changed. These new findings help explain why asteroids like Lutetia represent less than 1% of the asteroid population. The lead author of the study, Pierre Vernazza, is currently investigating asteroid surfaces and composition using wavelength technology at ESO. According to Vernazza, “Lutetia seems to be the largest, and one of the very few, remnants of such material in the main asteroid belt. For this reason, asteroids like Lutetia represent ideal targets for future sample-return missions.” Further studies of Lutetia could help scientists “study in detail the origin of the rocky planets, including our Earth,” elucidating theories behind the Earth’s formation.

This is an artist’s impression of the Rosetta satellite, which is named after the Rosetta stone. Just like its namesake, the spacecraft will help to unravel the mysteries of the past. SOURCE: ESA

This artist’s impression shows an event in the early history of the Solar System that may explain how the unusual asteroid Lutetia came to now be located in the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. Lutetia is seen passing close to one of the very young rocky planets about four billion years ago and having its orbit drastically altered. SOURCE: ESO/M. KORNMESSER AND N. RISINGER


European Southern Observatory – ESO. “Lutetia: A rare survivor from the birth of Earth.” ScienceDaily, 11 Nov. 2011. Web. Staff, SPACE.com. “Battered Asteroid Lutetia a Rare Relic of Earth’s Birth.” Msnbc.com. Microsoft National Broadcasting Company, 13 Nov. 2011. Web. {Source: ESA, NASA} ACADEMY SCIENTIFIC VOL 3.1 | 21


Salmonella in space + janice sung, aast 2013

The Salmonella bacteria can be crawling in your eggs, beef, tomatoes, peanut butter, and many other food products, causing approximately 40,000 reported cases of salmonellosis, the leading type of food poisoning. This is quite an impressive figure for a bacterium only 2 micrometers in length and 0.5 micrometers in diameter. Although other pathogen-related foodborne illnesses have decreased in prevalence, Salmonella infections have risen. In 2010, the annual incidences were 3% more prevalent than between 1996-1998. Traditionally, most patients with salmonellosis are treated by increasing fluid intake with antibiotics prescribed for more

severe infections. However, the growing rate of antibiotic resistance has made treatment more difficult, making salmonellosis a pressing public health issue requiring new therapeutic strategies. Researchers are seeking answers to the challenge of the resistant bacteria in a new location, outer space, and have made some surprising discoveries. Two space shuttle missions to the International Space Station revealed that Salmonella bacteria cultured in a microgravity environment increased in virulence by three to seven times compared to Salmonella cultured on Earth. The studies, led by Dr. Cheryl Nickerson of Arizona State University, found

Cheryl Nickerson of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University is researching a vaccine for salmonella. SOURCE: NICK MEEK – NASA


that the environment seen in outer space provided an ideal growth environment for bacteria. The researchers theorize that the conditions in the microgravity environment reflect the condition of

netic changes occurring in the human intestinal system. Genetic studies showed that the Hfq protein is a central regulator of gene expression in the spaceflight environment, providing scientists with a molecular target in the search for a

The researchers theorize that the conditions in the microgravity environment reflect the condition of the human intestines. the human intestines. The key to understanding this connection lies in a phenomenon known as fluid shear. Fluid shear is a form of fluid mechanical stress between any real fluid and the walls of its container. A similar stress is exerted on bacterial cell membranes. When Salmonella bacteria enter the intestines, they are drawn to tiny, hairlike projections known as microvilli that line the intestinal wall, where the force of the fluid is low. When the bacterial cells are caught in the microvilli, not only are their genes stimulated to promote cell survival, but they are capable of entering the bloodstream, increasing the severity of the infection. Since the microgravity environment in space also has low fluid shear, the increase in virulence of the bacteria can be attributed to that fact. This is the first time fluid shear has been connected to the properties of a disease-causing microbe. An additional dynamic to the increased virulence is the team’s discovery that the levels of 167 genes changed significantly in the bacteria grown in space, which may reflect similar ge-

cure. In an attempt to reduce the virulence of Salmonella bacteria in space, the team added varying amounts of the ions of potassium, chlorine, and magnesium, along with sulfate and phosphate ions. This remarkably decreased the virulence, suggesting that there are novel therapeutic approaches against Salmonella infection. Recently, another shuttle was launched to the International Space Station to test preliminary strains of Salmonella with Recombinant Attenuated Salmonella Vaccine (RASV). The study, which was designed by Nickerson and another team of researchers led by Dr. Roy Curtiss III, aims to improve the potency of the vaccine and limit potential side effects by testing the vaccine in the extreme conditions of space. Future studies utilizing the spaceflight platform could provide solutions for not only combating Salmonella infections but other microbial diseases as well. The answers we find beyond our planet may one day have a significant influence on our everyday lives here on Earth.

references “Incidence of Foodborne Illness, 2010.” cdc.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 17 Nov. 2011. Web. Nimon, Jessica. “Voyage to Vaccine Discovery Continues with Space Station Salmonella Study.” nasa.gov. NASA. 28 July 2011. Web. Phillips, Tony. “Salmonella Spills its Secrets on the Space Shuttle.” nasa.gov. NASA. 6 May 2009. Web. Wilson, J.W., C.M. Ott, L. Quick, et. al. “Media Ion Composition Controls Regulatory and Virulence Response of Salmonella in Spaceflight.” PLoS One 3.12 (2008): e3923.

{Source: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH} ACADEMY SCIENTIFIC VOL 3.1 | 23



jennifer chan, amst


+ Mentor: Mrs. Leonardi + Project: Activation-induced Cytidine Deaminase (AID): A Common Target for ER-dependent and ER-independent Breast Cancer Therapies


Overexpression of estrogen receptor (ER) frequently occurs in the genesis and progression of breast cancer. The activated ER complex acts as a transcription factor for various growth-related genes, and thus ER binding is often a target in anticancer therapies, such as tamoxifen, an ER antagonist. ER activity has been shown to upregulate activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), an enzyme that deaminates cytosine into uracil, initiating genomic mutations in immunoglobulin (Ig) gene loci. Although alterations in the Ig locus are essential for the production of a diverse array of antibodies that can bind to pathogens, aberrant AID activity can cause mutations in non-Ig loci that lead to oncogenesis. In this study, the effects of tamoxifen on cell viability and AID were investigated in ER-positive and ER-negative breast cancer cells (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231, respectively). Differential effects of tamoxifen on AID expression in these cell types showed that tamoxifen works through ER-dependent and ER-independent mechanisms. At nanomolar concentrations (1-100nM), tamoxifen inhibited both AID expression and cell growth only in ER-positive MCF-7 cells, presumably through competitive binding with ER. However, higher concentrations of tamoxifen (1-10μM) were found to inhibit growth and induce AID in both ERpositive MCF-7 cells and ER-negative MDA-MB-231 cells, suggesting that tamoxifen works through an ERindependent mechanism that increases AID expression. This mechanism was found to involve activation of NFKB, a transcription factor that induces pro-survival signaling and has been implicated in tamoxifen resistance of breast cancer cells. Co-treatment of high-dose tamoxifen and an NFKB inhibitor was found to most effectively reduce AID production, which corresponded with most effective inhibition of cell growth. These results provide support for AID’s potential as an important target for maximizing the efficacy of ER-dependent and ER-independent breast cancer therapies.


Aside from her research, Jen spends a lot of time at her local Ambulence Corps. She also especially enjoys playing the piano and eating food!


joshua meier, aast


+ Mentor: Dr. Pergolizzi + Project: The Missing Genome: Mitochondrial DNA Deletions in Stem Cells


Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have great potential for regenerative medicine, including the ability to avoid rejection in transplantation scenarios, as well as relative ease of procurement compared to embryonic stem cells (ESCs), although in comparison, they have a much higher rate of apoptosis, a decreased rate of proliferation, and premature aging behavior. While the reasons for these phenomena have yet to be elucidated, it was hypothesized in this study that they are triggered by the large-scale “common deletion” in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of iPSCs. The presence of this deletion was investigated using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on the mtDNA of iPSCs, which showed that the iPSCs studied did contain this specific deletion. An assay based on real-time (RT-) PCR was used to quantify the level of mtDNA deletions within each cell type, revealing that while heteroplasmic, up to 60% of iPSC mtDNA molecules may be subject to the “common deletion”. Transmission electron microscopy was utilized in order to determine morphologic differences between the mitochondria of iPSCs and their source cells, revealing definite disparities in terms of size and structural properties. These data demonstrate that iPSCs (compared to ESCs) have mtDNA deletions and morphologic changes that may be the basis for their premature senescence, and that the mtDNA deletions are a function of iPSC generation methodology. By comparing mtDNA deletion levels and morphologic differences, a diagnostic test can be developed for determining whether novel methods of generating iPSCs maintain their inherent clinical potential without producing rapid senescence.


Josh dedicates the majority of his free time to his lab research. When he is not in the lab he can be found indulging his love for ancient history and iPhone app development.



brianna pereira, amst


+ Mentor: Mrs. Leonardi + Project: A Novel Use of CXCR4 Antagonist AMD3100 for the Treatment of Metastatic Lung Cancer


An issue with current lung cancer treatments is that once the cancer has metastasized, or migrated, to other parts of the body such as bone or heart tissue, conventional methods such as chemotherapy or surgery cannot be used because sites of metastasis provide growth and drug resistance signals to cells and may become too numerous. As a result, novel treatments that target lung cancer metastasis are needed. One potential method is targeting the biological pathways that mediate migration, such as the CXCR4/SDF-1a pathway. Non-small cell lung cancer cells have been found to possess CXCR4 receptors on their cell surface that direct cell migration towards stromal cell-derived factor-1 or SDF-1a, the ligand of CXCR4. This research investigated if CXCR4 antagonist AMD3100, FDA approved for stem cell mobilization, could inhibit migration of A549, a non-small cell lung cancer cell line. Migration assays against SDF-1 demonstrated positive chemotaxis implying that the receptors were functional, but treatment with AMD3100 inhibited this migration. Flow cytometry and immunostaining suggested receptor endocytosis may cause this. Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), which is involved in the degradation of the extracellular matrix necessary for migration, decreased with AMD3100 treatment meaning that AMD3100 may be able to interfere with tumor cell mobility. Cell viability and and Caspase 3/7 assays showed reduced viability in treated A549. AKT phosphorylation, significant in cell viability and apoptosis, was reduced indicating that AMD3100 may be able to interfere with not only the migratory effects of the CXCR4 pathway, but also proliferative effects as well. Results suggest that AMD3100 is a potential novel treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.


In her spare time away from the lab, Brianna enjoys drawing, listening to music, and reading fiction novels.

dan radin, amst


+ Mentor: Mrs. Leonardi + Project: Lifeguard Inhibition of fas-mediated Apoptosis as a Mechanism of Chemoresistance


Triple-negative breast cancer does not express estrogen receptor-a, progesterone, or the HER2 receptor, making hormone or antibody therapy ineffective. Cisplatin may initiate p53-dependent apoptosis through Bax/Caspase-9 as well as Fas-dependent apoptosis through Caspase-8. The triple-negative breast cancer, MDA-MB-231, overexpresses the protein Lifeguard, which inhibits Fas-mediated apoptosis. The relationship between Fas, Lifeguard and cisplatin is investigated by down regulating Lifeguard via shRNA. Results demonstrate that cisplatin’s efficacy increases when Lifeguard is down regulated (p<0.01). ELISA determined that cisplatin increases Fas Ligand production in both Wild-Type and Lifeguard Knockdown MDA-MB-231. Regardless, Wild-Type MDA viability plateaus from 24 to 48 hours. The viability of Lifeguard Knockdown Cells decreases from 24 to 48 hours (p<0.01). Higher Caspase-8 activity in Lifeguard Knockdown MDA (p<0.01) suggests that Fas-mediated apoptosis in Lifeguard Knockdown MDA from 24 to 48 hours. This “bystander” effect was investigated by co-culturing Wild-Type and Lifeguard Knockdown MDA-MB-231 with non-transfected MDAMB-231 pre-exposed to cisplatin. Cisplatin degradation prior to co-incubation suggests that decline in Lifeguard Knockdown MDA cell viability was due to cisplatin’s extrinsic mechanism (p<0.0003). It can be concluded that the efficacy of chemotherapy acting through the Fas pathway would increase if Lifeguard was not overexpressed to inhibit Fas-mediated apoptosis.


In his spare time, Dan enjoys competing in pickup baseball games with his friends on local fields. He also loves playing ping-pong and video games.


senior experience Jordan Silver, AAST 2012 Q: What is your internship?

until you find a small error that caused the problem.

A: I intern at the American Museum of Natural History in its Astrophysics Department. The Museum is located on Central Park West in New York City. My internship gives me the opportunity to apply astronomy concepts and computer programming skills in a practical environment, enabling me to learn how the knowledge I gained can be applied to real life.

Q: Based on your internship, would you still want to pursue this as a career?

Q: What is your day like? A: Most of my day is spent behind a computer, rereading segments of code to get them functioning correctly. By midday, I show my work to my mentor, Brian Abbott, for him to offer his advice. Then, after my mentor helps me fix my mistakes and shows me new ways to solve the same task, I am given a new assignment to build on my prior code. Often this comes in the form of using astronomical databases to match stars with exoplanets with the Museum’s Star Catalog. Sometimes I also work with the Partiview software in order to visualize a model of the universe and consider the best way of sharing the information with the general public. Q: Does your mentor give you any external assignments to do? A: No, my internship is relatively relaxed and my mentor is in no rush. Also, the Partiview software, one of the few parts he does want me to gain more experience with is only available on the Museum computers. Q: Do you work with a team of people at your internship? A: No, as my ing necessary omy, I spend dently, talking

internship is focused more on learnskills to pursue a career in astronmost of my time working indepento my mentor only 2-3 times a day.

Q: Would you recommend your internship to anyone else? A: I would recommend this internship to anybody with patience and a desire to learn data processing and visualization. However, I don’t recommend this internship to anybody without any programming experience. While, experience isn’t required, programming requires patience and an enjoyment of the often tedious task of checking code over and over 26 | ACADEMY SCIENTIFIC VOL 3.1

A: Yes, my experience in the field has only increased my desire to learn more about astronomy and about combining all these skills in a real life scenario. Q: What is your favorite part of your internship? Why? A: My favorite part of this internship is being able to see how computers enable scientists to easily process, analyze, reformat and visualize data. Using the Perl programming language, I am able to take a huge pile of text data, copied from the Internet, pick out the needed values, and recombine them in seconds rather than the hours it would take by hand. Using the Partiview software, I am able to see how distances that seem large such as the distance to the International Space Station are actually insignificant compared to the vast distances of the planets, stars, and galaxies. Q: What is your least favorite part of your internship? Why? A: My least favorite part of the internship is cross correlating various stellar databases in order to find the stars from their name in the Exoplanet Database in the Stellar Catalog. This requires tedious manipulations of the various names to make them the same so that the machine can recognize them as the same. However, even this hard part is still enjoyable as I still learn how to carefully manipulate text. Q: Had you always wanted an internship like this? If so, what was it that made you want this? A: I did not always want an internship like this. While I have always had an interest in the stars and the possibilities and wonders offered by space, I simply learned how to program. I soon became interested in learning how to combine the skills using one to facilitate the other. Q: What did you consider when looking for an internship? A: I wanted an internship that would enable me to learn more about astronomy and about the actual applications of programming, rather than the contained tasks given in school.

staff spotlight Mr. Paul, Physics teacher Q: What is your philosophy on education? A: I think that to the extent that we can, we should try to get students to do things on their own. Obviously, they need guidance in situations that they are new to, but teachers are certainly guides on a journey. Q: What jobs did you have, if any, before becoming a teacher? How did you decide to become a teacher? A: I was in the Navy. For some reason, they asked me to teach damage control on the aircraft carrier I was on. Officers began coming to my sessions because they thought they could learn the material faster and therefore, I learned that I had a knack for teaching. It’s interesting how things that I learned, before the Navy and after, were both important to my pursuit of a career. Q: How did you initially become interested in physics and astronomy? A: I remember in 8th grade, I was interested, but I thought it was something beyond me. Like it was something for geniuses. Laughs. When I was in high school, I thought the priesthood was for me. So, I was in a seminary. My college professor told me I wasn’t good at writing, though, so I wouldn’t really be able to write sermons. I then left the seminary. I found, however, that I had a good mathematical ability, and I then started taking various courses, among them, physics, and I figured out I was good at that. I didn’t take astronomy courses until later. Q: What do you find most interesting in the field of astronomy today? A: This is a golden age of astronomy. You see someone like Galileo – he was led by a sense of wonder. He was the first scientist to look through a telescope and he sees the moons of Jupiter! Aristotle thought that the earth was the center of this universe, but this discovery of the moons of Jupiter rejected that idea. Galileo’s telescope was certainly crude by any standards, and today, we have telescopes that have mirrors that are eight meters across! We have situated telescopes in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places in the world, Hawaii, and Arizona. In addition, we have the Hubble Space Telescope, orbiting the Earth. There’s also a telescope being

planned, the James Webb telescope, that will certainly revolutionize astronomy, as it uses infrared light. Q: What is one accomplishment that has given you the most satisfaction? Why? A: What students do is what you really care about. It almost seems unfair to get credit as the teacher. Laughs. In 2008, some students won the Habitat Moon Competition, a national NASA-run contest, and I was the mentor teacher. Of course, I was certainly helped by others. Ms. Zepatos helped me understand biology, as the competition centered on feeding astronauts. Success is a general thing at this school - I have telecom, culinary, performing arts, business, science, and engineering students and it’s fascinating to see all these students working together in the classroom. Every academy has students that really excel. Q. How do you determine or evaluate success? A. It’s one of the most difficult things to do. Look at Einstein. He was a brilliant person - we know that now, but during his school years, that was different. There are many rumors that he failed multiple subjects. The thing is – he wasn’t really worried about grades. He was interested in things that excited his imagination, and he followed these things to the root. In college, he did something that we don’t really want students to do here - he cut class. He alienated his professors so much that, after college, he was unable to get recommendations from them. Here we have one of the most important physicists in history, begging for recommendations for a post. Nobody would give it to him. He gets a job at the Swiss Patent Office, but realistically, under the tutelage of another, he probably would not have been able to pursue anything that fueled his imagination. In 1905, he wrote papers on three different subjects, any one of which would make him famous. The second one was on relativity, which he is most famous for now, and the third was on the photoelectric effect. It turns out that this was the one he got the Nobel Prize for, which tells you something! People make pilgrimages to see him. Here you have a guy who gets catapulted from total obscurity, and now they want to give him top positions. To me, that’s a big lesson, because I wonder: could we have realized that this is the student who would be famous? I probably


wouldn’t have realized - it’s so hard to tell what students are going to do in their futures. So I tell myself, spread your net. Let everybody have an opportunity to explore subjects to the full extent that they can. Q: What school subjects did you like the best? Why? A: In 6th grade, I loved writing. My 6th grade teacher, Mr. Decker, was the best. As a math major, he said he would not assign math as punishment. In those days, math was usually assigned as a punishment due to its tedious nature. I wrote short stories as a kid, and he thought they were great. I remember he told me, “Never stop writing.” He actually thought my writing was more significant than my math. Q: What school subjects did you like the least? Why? A: Well, I didn’t really dislike any, but I wasn’t very good at foreign languages. The funniest thing was that when I was in the Navy, I thought I needed to

know a language, so I learned French. I read tons of books and listened to audio tapes. I thought I could speak it pretty fluently. It just so happened that the ship I was on went to France. I went to a train station there, and I talked to a guy in French. He told me, “You speak good French.” Laughs. He knew I wasn’t a native, and that I was trying so hard to speak fluently. I guess I didn’t really have a knack for languages. Q: What is one piece of advice that you would offer to BCA students? A: Try to maintain balance. For example, everybody knows that you want to do really well in all your courses, and let’s face it - you don’t really have much of a social life. What I get afraid of is that students don’t get enough sleep. I don’t want students to study four hours for my test. One hour a night is good. You have to try to balance - I’m aware that it’s hard to do. Sleep is the most obvious, but there are other things. I don’t think people should sacrifice their health in the name of science or any other subject.

Ms. Caroccia: Welcome Addition to BCA Staff + michelle guo, aast 2013

Eight years after graduating from BCA, Danielle Caroccia is back – this time, as a teacher in the Chemistry department. She currently teaches freshmen in AAST, AEDT, and AMST and sophomores in ACAHA, ABF, ATCS, and AVPA. As a member of the AMST class of 2003, Ms. Caroccia experienced firsthand the dynamic environment of our school. She noted that, “having the support of friends [was one of the most memorable aspects of BCA]”, remembering how she and her friends helped each other through school and sports. Ms. Caroccia later went on to say, “I made some of the best friends here.” While she studied science, Ms. Caroccia played softball and swam. At the University of New Haven, she pursued majors in chemistry and forensic science and minors in biology and criminal justice. She realized her interest in chemistry when she was offered a research opportunity. “My teachers opened my eyes to chemistry,” she said. After her undergraduate education, Ms. Caroccia studied chemistry and performed research at the Stevens Institute of Technology. This research involved the development of a novel HIV protease inhibitor. HIV patients take numerous drugs to stop the life cycle of HIV in different places. The drug she worked on effectively inhibits the activity of HIV protease, preventing HIV infection. This discovery at the Stevens Institute of Technology was published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and received a patent. When asked where the field of medicinal chemistry will be in the next five years, Ms. Caroccia predicted that “new drugs will be made that will prove to be better than existing ones.”


How exactly did research lead Ms. Caroccia back to BCA? During graduate school, she realized the lab was not for her. She said she felt the “happiest and most comfortable in the classroom teaching chemistry.” Her approach to chemistry encourages students to think “outside the box.” She ensures that the “classroom is a place where everyone can learn together.” Ms. Caroccia said, “Right answer or wrong answer, I want my students to take a leap and come up with new ways of thinking.” Indeed, many students feel that this open classroom environment is conducive to learning. Zack, a student in AAST, felt happy that Ms. Caroccia “gives us freedom and lets us use our laptops.” In this way, she trusts her students to be responsible for managing their own time. Andy, another student in AAST, said he enjoys the class and feels that he is learning a great deal. BCA welcomes Ms. Caroccia to the teaching staff!




BCA Math Team Wins Big at NAT Fall Startup

+ lauren lee, amst 2014

On September 24, 2011, the BCA Math Team participated in its first competition of the year, the NAT Fall Startup, short for the National Assessment & Testing Fall Startup Event, short for NAT Fall Startup. The annual event consists of a 100-problem, 30-minute individual competition. Each student takes the test, and the top four individual scores in the school determine the team score. The contest is designed to prepare and motivate the team for the upcoming competition season. As always, our math team was victorious, emerging as the first place school, scoring 313 out of a possible 400 points. This was 46 points higher than the second place school! Individual prizes were awarded to the top scoring students in each grade division. The AAST math team had 13 students recognized as winners. Justin Yu, Alexander Katz, Ryan Alweiss, Jinoh Jeong, and Mark Sabini placed among the top 25 of all participating freshmen. Justin Yu scored 71 points out of a possible 100, which put him in 3rd place in the division. Jonathan Yu and

Soonho Kwon placed in the top 25 of all participating sophomores, with Jonathan Yu placing 6th in the sophomore division with a score of 75. BCA juniors swept the top places in the junior division, with Mark Mirtchouk, Jongwhan Park, and Michael Sun placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively. Mark had a score of 92, which was the highest among all participants in the competition. Also placing in the top 25 in the junior division was Dong Han Kim. In the senior division, senior Alex Zhu tied for 2nd place with a score of 75, and Licheng Rao tied for 8th place. The NAT Fall Startup is particularly enjoyable for the members of math team because of the exhilaration that comes with the challenge of solving a large number of problems in a short amount of time. As individual winner Jonathan Yu said, “For one thing, [the NAT Fall Startup] is my favorite competition because it’s all about speed.” Congratulations to the BCA Math Team! We wish them the best of luck for the upcoming seasons!

The Math Team enjoys a day of sightseeing on one of southern California’s beautiful beaches. SOURCE: BCA MATH TEAM


BCA Math Team Holds its 9th Annual Math Competition

+ radhika malhotra, amst 2014

On Sunday, October 16, 2011, Bergen County Academies’ beloved Math Team held the 9th annual BCA Math Competition for hundreds of students in fourth through eighth grade. Allotted a 90-minute test period, each student had to answer as many of the fifty questions as they could. While calculators and questions about the test were not allowed once the test began, students could prepare for the exam by using the available exams on the Math Competition website. On the day of the competition, the students were required to arrive and check in, receiving an identification number. After they completed the competition, the students were let go to eat lunch, while the Math Team members graded the tests. The day concluded with an award ceremony where the ten best scoring students from each grade were celebrated and called up on stage to receive a plethora of gifts. The sponsors of the competition, Wolfram Research, Inc., Art of Problem Solving, and Texas Instruments, provided prizes, such as trophies, certificates, online courses, books, and calculators for the winners. For those who did not score high enough among the crowd, the identification numbers they received at registration allowed them to check their scores on the test later. While the highest scores this year varied from 24 to 41, the difficulty of the test for each grade was far beyond the average math curriculum, so completion of many questions on the test was a feat of victory in itself. Reena Malhotra, a student of Lovell J. Honiss School in Dumont, who had been taking the test since she was in the fourth grade said, “While the preparation for the test

is tedious, the satisfaction received when you successfully complete twenty questions on the test is enormous, and cannot be measured. To complete such a challenging exam really is a self-esteem booster, giving me the feeling of actually being smart.” The entire test is written and, as previously mentioned, graded by BCA students who are part of Math Team. BCA’s Math Team meets on weekends with its coaches, Dr. Abramson, Mr. Pinyan, Mr. Plotnick, and Mr. Wojcik. Alex Zhu was this year’s competition editor and Michael Sun was the student coordinator. The questions were written by Mark Aksen, Andrew Cai, James Chen, Jenny Chen, Jean Huang, Yuriko Inaba, Jennifer Kim, Steven Kwon, Claire Lazar, Jenny Mu, Licheng Rao, Michael Sun, Arthur Wang, Kelvin Wang, Kenny Yang, James Ye, Jonathan Yu, David Zhang, and Alex Zhu. Each grade was assigned two exam leaders who led that grade through the examination process. Steven Kwon, a student in AAST, stated, “[The Math Competition] is definitely worth doing. The problems are interesting, so [the children] get to learn a lot more about other types of math competitions.” He says that it is a successful day, for children to open their eyes to competitions such as the AMCs (American Mathematics Competitions) and the AIMEs (American Invitational Mathematics Examination), which are the inspirations for BCA’s Math Competition. Overall, while the day was somewhat stressful, it commemorated students’ universal love for mathematics and honored those who had worked hard to complete the test, providing young students with math experiences well beyond the programs and curricula that their individual schools may offer.

Duke Math Meet

+ radhika malhotra, amst 2014

The Bergen County Academies Math Team recently put on an outstanding showing at the Duke Math Meet, a regional mathematics competition for high school students held at Duke University. The Duke competition is an annual day-long event, which was held on November 12, 2011 this year, during which students solve challenging mathematics problems. The first several problem sets are solved in groups of six members, and then another set is solved individually. The group or individual that correctly solves the greatest number of questions is named the winner. Despite the competition being a single day, the trip for the math team lasted three days altogether, with the extra days coming from the 10 hour bus rides to and from North Carolina. To pass the time on the long bus rides, math team tradition dictated that members involve themselves in activities such as mafia, playing cards, and sleeping. Although competing against 60 other teams and over 400 students, the lead group from BCA placed 3rd over30 | ACADEMY SCIENTIFIC VOL 3.1

all in the competition, with only half of a point separating them from the 1st finishers. The other groups of the BCA Math Team placed in 5th, 10th, 13th, 14th, and 20th which meant that six of the groups from BCA placed in the top third of all teams at the competition. In addition to the outstanding group performances, there were also strong individual placements, with four of the math team members tying for 7th place. The most exceptional aspect of the results of the competition is that it showed the BCA Math Team’s enormous potential for growth; of the four 7th place finishers of the BCA Math Team and the three others from the top group, none were seniors. This indicates a high chance to place even better at next year’s math meet. A member of the math team said, “The Duke Math Meet really opened my eyes to the level of competition outside of BCA. It was a great experience bonding with new people over a shared love of math. I can’t wait for next year’s meet!”

{Source: Public Domain} ACADEMY SCIENTIFIC VOL 3.1 | 31

{Source: Messier M8, Ignacio Diaz Bobillo, NASA}


2010-2011 BCA AWARD WINNERS IN SCIENCE, MATH, AND TECHNOLOGY *GRADE LEVELS REFLECT THE 2010-2011 SCHOOL YEAR* 2011 INTEL SEMI-FINALISTS + Junyoung (Jason) Choi - Paclitaxel Drug Delivery to MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cells with Fluorescently Tagged Glycol-Chitosan Nanoparticle Conjugates as Excipients for Maximizing the Antitumor Effect and Minimizing Cytotoxicity. + Shivani Shah - Creating a Dead End for Cancer: The Role of LPA Receptors 1/3 and 2 in Ovarian Cancer Metastases. + Khushali Upadhyay - The Effects of Azadirichita indica Leaf Extract on the Immune System + Apexa Modi - The Effects of Ginkgo Biloba and Ascorbic Acid on Smoking Induced Pulmonary Disease. + Augustina Mensa-Kwao - From the Frying Pan to the Fire + Austin Wang - Incorporating Fill Pressure and Absorption Power in a Plasma Model for Study of the Magnetorotational Instability in the Laboratory 2011 REGIONAL SCIENCE OLYMPIAD + Justin Zhang and Justin Kim, Grade 11, 3rd in Chemistry Lab + Teresa Fan and Jean Huang, Grade 11, 3rd in Write-It, Do-It + Rohil Bhatnagar and Paul Kim, Grade 12, 4th in Optics 2011 STATE SCIENCE OLYMPIAD + 1st place in Technical Problem Solving + 6th place in Microbe Mission + 7th place in Write-It, Do-It + 10th place in Chemistry Lab + 10th place in Mission Possible STANFORD MATH TOURNAMENT + Licheng Rao, Grade 11, 2nd in Algebra + Jongwhan Park, Grade 10, 4th in Algebra, 4th in Geometry + Alex Zhu, Grade 11, 2nd in Calculus + Robert Lin, Grade 10, 8th in Advanced Topics + Sawwon Lee, Grade 11, 8th in General + AAST Mu A, 1st in team round, 2nd in power round, 1st overall


NJRSF 2011 ISEF Team Award + Won Ik (Ryan) Lee, Grade 12 + Hong Joon Park, Grade 11 This team also picked up 4th place in Category and the 2nd Team Navy Award at ISEF! NJIT Academic Fellowship + George Masanori Iwaoka, Grade 11 + Ariana Aimani, Grade 11 (Alternate) ISEF Symposium Finalists + Jun Park, Grade 11 + Shivani Vinay Shah, Grade 12 + Christine J Ha, Grade 11 + Junyoung Choi, Grade 12 + Supriya Rastogi, Grade 12 Partners in Science Award + Michelle Rudshteyn, Grade 11 + Emily An-Li Tu, Grade 11 + Raedah Ali, Grade 11 NJIT Summer Academy Scholarship + Christine J Ha, Grade 11 D&B Award for Independent Student Research + Hadar Lazar, Grade 11 Rutgers Presidential Awards + Won Ik (Ryan) Lee, Grade 12 + Hong Joon Park, Grade 11 + Janice Yejin Sung, Grade 10 Four-Year NJRSF Entrant Awards + Shivani Vinay Shah, Grade 12 Category Awards Biochemistry + Michelle Rudshteyn, Grade 11, 1st + Raedah Ali, Grade 11, 2nd + Augustina Mensa-Kwao, Grade 12, 2nd + Khushali Upadhyay, Grade 12, 2nd + Emily An-Li Tu, Grade 11, 2nd + Ariana Aimani, Grade 11, 3rd + Ariela Safira, Grade 11, Honorable Mention

Category Awards (cont.) Biomedical Science + Thomas Silver, Grade 11, 2nd + George Masanori Iwaoka, Grade 11, 3rd + Janice Yejin Sung, Grade 10, 3rd + Aishwarya Raja, Grade 11, 3rd Cellular or Molecular Biology + Supriya Rastogi, Grade 12, 1st + Won Ik (Ryan) Lee, Grade 12, 2nd + Hong Joon Park, Grade 11, 2nd + Elizabeth Laura Dente, Grade 11, 3rd + Justin Kim, Grade 10, Honorable Mention Chemistry + Jae Seong No, Grade 12, 2nd + Donyoun Jang, Grade 12, 3rd Cancer Research + Jun Park, Grade 11, 1st + Shivani Vinay Shah, Grade 12, 1st + Bhasha Mukhopadhyay, Grade 12, 2nd + Eun-Be Kim, Grade 11, 2nd + Alan Hwang, Grade 11, 3rd + Hadar Lazar, Grade 11, 3rd Engineering + Henry Ling, Grade 12, 3rd Environmental Science + Christine J Ha, Grade 11, 1st General Biology + Jennifer Chan, Grade 10, 3rd Health and Physiology + Junyoung Choi, Grade 12, 1st + Archanna Radakrishnan, Grade 12, 2nd + Varsha Subramaniam, Grade 10, 3rd + Apexa Modi, Grade 12, Honorable Mention Microbiology + Regina Rijaa Cai, Grade 12, 1st + Anthony Rocco Arena, Grade 12, 1st + Alina Rose Fiato, Grade 10, Honorable Mention Physics and Materials + Pavel Petrovich Shibayev, Grade 12, 1st

American Chemical Society Award + Jae Song No, Grade 12, 1st + Pavel Petrovich Shibayev, Grade 12, 3rd Rutgers Student Awards + Aishwarya Raja, Grade 11, 2nd + Augustina Mensa-Kwao, Grade 12, 2nd + Winnie Wai-Yee Lau, Grade 10, 2nd + Khushali Upadhyay, Grade 12, 2nd + Ariana Aimani, Grade 11, 3rd + Varsha Subramaniam, Grade 10, 3rd + Elizabeth Laura Dente, Grade 11, 3rd Theobald Smith Society Award in Microbiology + Regina Rijia Cai, Grade 12, 1st + Anthony Rocco Arena, Grade 12, 2nd Army First Place Project Award + Archanna Radakrishnan, Grade 12 + George Masanori Iwaoka, Grade 11 Army Achievement Award + Jae Seong No, Grade 12 + Victoria ShiZhen Png, Grade 12 + Daniel Pierce Radin, Grade 10 + Shivani Vinay Shah, Grade 12 + Leah Okrainsky, Grade 11 + Paul Michael Armenta, Grade 12 + Ysa Esquilin, Grade 11 In Vitro Biology Award + Michelle Rudshteyn, Grade 11 + Ariana Aimani, Grade 11 Material Science Award + Junyoung Choi, Grade 12 NOAA Award + Henry Ling, Grade 12 Office of Naval Research Award + Jae Seong No, Grade 12 Stockholm Junior Water Prize + Ji Soo (Janet) Park, Grade 11 + Christine J Ha, Grade 11 Yale Science and Engineering Award + Leah Okrainsky, Grade 11


Bergen County Technical Schools â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Bergen County Technical School District is an educational model that prepares students to live, work and lead in a global community.â&#x20AC;?

Bergen County Technical Schools Board of Education Lazaro Carvajal........................................................................................................................President William Connelly.............................................................................................................. Vice President Robert M. Gilmartin............................................................................Executive County Superintendent Marie E. La Testa............................................................................................................Board Member William J. Meisner, Ed.D.................................................................................................Board Member Central Office Administration Howard Lerner, Ed.D. ....................................................................................................Superintendent Andrea Sheridan............................................................................................. Assistant Superintendent Richard Panicucci.............................................Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction John Susino............................................................................ Business Administrator/Board Secretary Bergen County Executive Kathleen A. Donovan Board of Chosen Freeholders John Driscoll, Jr...................................................................................................................... Chairman Maura DeNicola.......................................................................................................... Vice Chairwoman John D. Mitchell........................................................................................................ Chair Pro Tempore John A. Felice .......................................................................................................................Freeholder David L. Ganz .......................................................................................................................Freeholder Robert G. Hermansen...........................................................................................................Freeholder Bernadette P. McPherson......................................................................................................Freeholder BCA Campus Administration Russell Davis............................................................................................................................ Principal Raymond Bath................................................................................................................. Vice Principal Dr. David Niedosik.................................................................................................................Supervisor

Designed by Lucia Tu & Printed by Students and Staff at BCA


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