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Columbia student Bailey Tator gives a presentation in the school auditorium

Bailey Tator ’21 presents her research at Columbia’s Science Research Mini Symposium.

When high school students think of “summer vacation” typical images come to mind, such as sun-drenched swimming pools, sandy beaches and backyard barbecues. Way down on that list would probably be dissecting mice in a lab, but that’s exactly how Bailey Tator, a junior from Columbia High School spent this past summer.

She worked in a lab at Albany Medical College three days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. this past summer as part of Columbia’s Science Research class. She was researching atherosclerosis, a disease of the arteries caused by plaques of fatty material on their inner walls, and the topic of her research project.

While in the lab, Ms. Tator dissected mice, removed their organs, cleaned the aorta of fat and then used different instruments to evaluate protein levels in the aorta.

“I learned a lot,” said Ms. Tator, who worked with mentors Dr. Young-Hwa Goo and technician Ryan Hogan, who is a Columbia alumnus. “I learned a lot of lab techniques, I learned a lot about microbiology of the vascular system, and a lot about mice.”

Ms. Tator is benefitting from Columbia High School’s Science Research program that provides hands-on 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 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.

Ms. Tator was one of 14 Columbia students who gave presentations about their research projects at the Science Research Mini Symposium in the school auditorium on October 23. It provided an opportunity for the students to show what they have learned so far and what their next steps will be.

“I saw Bailey’s presentation once in August and again at the Mini Symposium,” said Mrs. Gleason. “Dr. Goo and I were both impressed by the tremendous improvements made to her presentation. Her ability to communicate the information is as impressive as what she accomplished in the lab. I am so proud of her!”

Ms. Tator will continue her research this school year by reading journal articles and developing a new aspect of the project.

As for her summer plans, Ms. Tator will be back in the lab, moving forward with her research project and preparing for college and a career in the science field.

“I have a lot of interests, but science is one that I want to commit my life to,” Ms. Tator said.

Science Research Mini Symposium Presentations

  • Brandon Biggane – The Motivational Impact of Gym Teachers and Fitbits on Adolescents
  • Hayden Butterfield – Comparison of Carbon and Boron Fibers in Composite Materials
  • Grace Davis – Are YAP and TAZ Essential in Oligodendrocyte-Mediated Myelination?
  • Julia Hawkins – Will An Instructional Period Improve Tackle Technique in Youth Football
  • Maddie Ingoldsby – An Examination of the Correlation Between the Security of Adolescent Living Status and Connectedness to Peers, School, Family, and Community
  • Spencer Lahaie – The Impact of Social Media Use on Adolescent School Connectedness
  • Ciara Mazzone – Correlation between Menstrual Cycle Phase and ACL Tear
  • Logan Plowinske – The Effect of Oxybenzone of Freshwater Daphnia
  • Trenyce Rios – Noninvasive Techniques to Improve Chronic Pain
  • Chesney Romer – The Influence of The APOE Gene and Traumatic Brain Injury on The Frequency of LOAD
  • Lyssandra Sanchez – The Effects of Movement on Executive Function
  • Bailey Tator – Assessment of Gene Expression in Artherosclerotic Mouse Aortas
  • Megan Washock – How School Characteristics Impact Student Grieving
  • Alexis White – The Correlation Between Age of Gonadectomy and Behavioral Issues in Dogs

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.