By Caleigh O'Toole
Every year, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory selects a group of rising seniors to put in a minimum of ten hours a week at the lab working on biomedical research. Oyster Bay High School’s very own Jessica Layne was accepted and recently presented her research about Cystic Fibrosis. The foundation that provides this experience is called Partners for the Future. Founded in 1990 by Dr. James Watson, the program gives an opportunity for students to complete hands-on research of their choice.
The selected students come from many different schools; however, each school can only nominate three students in their junior years. These students are nominated for the unique experience by the school’s science chairperson. The laboratory
scientists then interview the semi-finalists. The winners go on to work their minimum of 10 hours a week. The work for the program lasts from September until March, and the students spend time conducting original research. They work under the careful observation of scientific mentors. After their research concludes, the students give an oral presentation to parents, scientific mentors and lab administrators.
Layne has already shown throughout her high school career how academically involved and dedicated she is. Along with her impressive academic achievements, Jessica Layne is also an athlete. She has played lacrosse and tennis for Oyster Bay High and recently won a News 12 Scholar Athlete Award. Jessica Layne will be attending Stanford University in the fall.
Jessica recently sat down with The Harbour Voice to tell us about her experience at the lab.
Why did you involve yourself with the lab?
I have always been interested in science and helping others. I wanted to learn how I can use research to impact other people’s lives.
Did you know about this program before you were nominated for it?
Yes, both my sisters took part in the Partners for the Future program at Cold Spring Harbor. I always knew about the program and knew I wanted to be involved in research.
What did you learn through your research?
Through my research, I learned a tremendous amount of information about lab techniques and methodology. I was able to use these techniques to conduct experiments and extrapolate data critical in my investigative project. Before I even started doing any experiments, I did a lot of background readings on cystic fibrosis that was critical to understanding my project.
Did working 10 hours a week affect your academics and social life?
It was definitely challenging balancing everything. I had to learn how to do my school work efficiently and effectively. I learned how to use my time wisely so I could still do well in school and have time to play sports and see friends.
Can you share one of the most memorable experiences?
One memorable experience was presenting my final research project at the Cold Spring Harbor Lab. It was an amazing feeling to see what I accomplished. It was the culmination of many experiments. It was incredible to analyze the data and put everything together.
How do you think this will help you in real-life?
This will definitely prepare me for real work in the future. I was faced with different challenges every day at the lab that I had to overcome and solve. I learned to think critically and problem solve. And I learned to work smarter not harder! I gained a lot of confidence along the way. The lab taught me about efficiency.
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