Friday, January 20, 2012

Science Project

Well, my new hero is young Samantha Garvey, who was all over the papers, blogs and tv shows last week.  She's the Long Island high school senior whose work in marine biology over the past several years has made her a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search.  She has done a thorough study of what happens to ribbed mussels in the presence of predators.

Her project is titled, "The Effects of Physical Environment and Predators on Phenotypic Plasticity in Geukensia demissa." As that clearly states, it's all about  how ribbed mussels -- which is what non-scientists call Geukensia demissa -- adjust their characteristics, or phenotypes, when predators and the whole world at large come crashing all around them.

When I was her age, the only study I did concerning the field of marine biology took place along the banks of Loch Raven Reservoir, where my scientific colleagues Joe, Mike and Steve investigated what would happen when four minors drank Boone's Farm and fished for trout. The predators in our study were the game wardens, and the mosquitoes. It's my recollection that none of us changed our phenotypes, but I might be wrong.  We were more than happy to change our jeans, I do remember that.

Here is what makes young Samantha so special:  when the news of her hard work came along, she and her family were living in a homeless shelter - and not for the first time.  Her parents have had their troubles, and now some help has come along and a rent-subsidized home has been found.  

Samantha is the president of her local National Honor Society.  I'm proud to say that I, too, knew people who were in the National Honor Society, although I was a stranger to their selection committee.  She has a 3.9 GPA, and I did about 3.9 % of my homework.  She, unlike me, wants to attend Brown or Yale, because as you'll see in the video, she wants better for herself and her family in the future, and she realizes that if she works for it, she can achieve it.

I love the way she is such a good young lady, hard-working and doing her best while being respectful to her family and to others.  I feel that she is one of those people who will beat the odds and find success.  I wish her well.

Now where did I leave my fishing rod...

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