Columbia High School’s Science Research program provides outstanding learning experiences to students while giving them a glimpse into possible careers. The competitive three-year program, which is led by Science Teacher Heidi Gleason, gives highly self-motivated students ‘real world’ science experience. Students select an area of interest, learn literature research skills, present articles and work with a professional mentor in their field of interest.
Just look at Michaela Davis-Pedlar ’19 and Grace Davis ’20, two of the 28 students in Columbia’s Science Research Program.
Ms. Davis-Pedlar is working with Dr. Javier Sanchez, the Director of Pediatric ICU at Albany Medical Center, researching pediatric congenital heart surgery. In the spring, she will present her project titled “Outcomes of Congenital Heart Surgery Performed in a Low Volume Center.”
“This is an experience people don’t usually get to have,” she said. “It’s not what normal high school students are doing. I think the Science Research program and the success of it has led to these opportunities because the people before us have gotten us into those institutions. People recognize that we’re hardworking and mature.”
As part of the program, Ms. Davis-Pedlar shadowed Emergency Room staff at Samaritan Hospital in Troy this past summer. During one of her visits, she saw a patient flatline, and then moments later, come back to life.
“This has just strengthened my want to go into cardiology,” she said.
Ms. Davis is also conducting research at Albany Medical Center. She is studying the differences between normal cells and damaged cells caused by neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, with neurologist Dr. Yannick Poitelon.
Ms. Davis visited the lab at Albany Med for the first time in July with Mrs. Gleason. She went on a tour and watched doctors work in the lab. She visits the lab regularly now, taking slices of brain and optic nerve cells, staining them and looking at them under a microscope.
The experience has confirmed her desire to work in the medical field after high school.
“I think I want to be a medical practitioner because I like working with people and patients,” Ms. Davis said.
Columbia’s Science Research program accepts applications from freshmen every spring. The application includes an essay, two teacher recommendations (at least one from a science teacher) and a 1-on-1 interview with Mrs. Gleason.