Congratulations to our 2016 CURJ Finalists!

Check out their manuscripts below.


Brandon Muncan--Comparing Various Preservation Solutions in Bovine Liver Samples

Biology, Medical Sciences

Queens High School for the Sciences at York College

My interest in biology, coupled with my desire to learn more about my ethic heritage took me to Timisoara, Romania over the summer 2015. In Timisoara, I worked side-by-side with Prof. Nicolae Tudose and Dr. Simona Costi in the pathology department of the Timisoara County Emergency Hospital(Affiliated hospital of the University of Medicine Timisoara). Here, I was able to carry out my research on preservation solutions in bovine liver. My experiences have overall taught me that science goes hand-in-hand with the humanities. In order to be able to innovate and investigate, you must be able to communicate and must aways be willing to learn more. Most of all, I learned that any task can be done with enough ambition, perseverance and optimism.


Nikhil Cheerla--Linking Human Brain Development and Synaptic Plasticity to Alternative Splicing


Monta Vista High School

I am Nikhil Cheerla. I am a 11 grade student at Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, CA. I am very passionate about research in bioinformatics and computational biology. I love applying machine learning techniques to solve complex bioinformatics problems. In my free time I also like to play tennis and compose music (in fact one of my current projects involves creating an AI to compose music). But maybe most of all, I like to curl up and read a good science fiction book every once in a while.


Parker Van Roy--The Effect of Various Bacteria on Thinopyrum Intermedium Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell Output

Environmental Science, Alternative Power

Manhasset High School

Sara Wong and Parker Van Roy have been members of Manhasset's science research program for four years. During a trip to Thailand, Parker noticed the abundant fields of rice, as well as many areas without access to electricity. Once he returned to Manhasset, he and partner Sara collaborated to work on methods to use rice fields to generate electricity while keeping food production, the result being their work with plant-microbial fuel cells.

Maya Rukshin--The Diagnostic Value of the Neutrophil-Lymphocyte Ratio in Stroke Recognition


Holmdel High School

Maya Rukshin is currently a senior at Holmdel High School. Maya is passionate about biomedical research, and hopes to find a career that focuses on financially motivating pharmaceutical and industrial companies to pursue research. In the past, Maya has analyzed the genetic composition of duckweed, identified an alternative way to diagnose strokes, and designed an alternative model of the dorsal skinfold chamber. Currently, she is investigating a possible treatment for Parkinson's and other neuro-degenerative disorders. Maya thoroughly enjoys playing squash and reading novels, though her primary passion has been research since she began high school.


George Theodosopoulos--The Use of Fluorescent Dye on Efficiency of Photovoltaic Cells

Renewable Energy

Manhasset Secondary School

This study was conducted by current juniors, George Theodosopoulos and Markella Tsalikis, during their sophomore year. Both have participated in the science research program at Manhasset since the 8th grade and plan on continuing conducting research through high school.


Shray Khanna--Establishment of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Generating System in Mouse and Human Fibroblasts

Stem Cell Biology

Briarcliff High School

My name is Shray Khanna, and I am a senior at Briarcliff High School in Briarcliff Manor, New York. I am currently enrolled in a program called the Briarcliff Science Research Program through the University at Albany. This program allows students to pursue scientific research in a chosen field of study over the course of three years. My primary area of interest is stem cell research. As a result, I’ve spent the past three years developing my foundational understanding of current research in the field of stem cell biology, with a particular emphasis on iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells). During the past summer, I was fortunate enough to gain the opportunity to conduct research on HSCs (hematopoietic stem cells) under the guidance of Dr. Ihor Lemischka and his M.D. /Ph.D. student, Michael Daniel, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai. I've found this research opportunity to be extremely fruitful, both in the lab-work experience it afforded me and in that it greatly expanded my knowledge of cell (and more specifically stem cell) biology. I look very forward to presenting the research we've conducted thus far.


Jun Yan He--Salicin as a Multipurpose Therapeutic Approach for Colon Cancer

Cancer Biology

Manhasset Secondary School

Jun Yan He: I am a senior attending Manhasset Secondary School. I've always been interested about cancer biology and immunology since I was young. My interest in this field stemmed from the fact that there are constant advancements being made and that the research I do can potentially help make us one step closer to helping improve patient outcomes. Bongseok Jung: I am a junior attending Herricks High School. I've always been interested about cancer biology ever since 3 of my grandparents passed away from different kinds of cancer. Watching them suffer from the inefficacy of conventional chemotherapies made me rethink whether there is a better way to manage cancer that we haven't yet discovered. Therefore, in the summer to junior year, I partnered up with Jun Yan to investigate a compound that may help optimize colon cancer treatment. I hope this research can really advance colon cancer treatment options and ultimately improve patient outcomes.


Haena-Young Lee--Using Standardized Uptake Value Ratios to Reduce Positron Emission Tomography Scanning Time...

Medical Imaging

Montgomery Blair High School

Haena-Young Lee is a senior in Montgomery Blair High School's Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet Program. She has interned at the Department of Radiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for the past three summers, and this year she conducted research regarding an interestingly simple radiological measurement that has significant potential but has not been studied extensively in various aspects. For this study, Haena conducted research under the mentorship of Dr. Yuchuan Wang.


Lakshyaa Balakrishnan--Reproductive Morphology In Adult Nematode Species and their Corresponding...Gene Expression


Monta Vista High School

Lakshyaa Balakrishnan is a junior at Monta Vista High School. Lakshyaa has interests in biology, and plans on entering the medical field and becoming an Orthopedic Surgeon - her long sought dream. She is also an avid Indian classical dancer who has been performing for 11 years.
Beatriz Yankelevich is a junior at Davis Senior High school. She has an interest in biology-and chemistry, which she plans to pursue in college in a career in research. Marissa Martinez is a senior at Oakland School of Arts. She is a multi-talented dance emphasis student who also has a passion for science.
Samantha Castro is a senior in San Bernandino, and longs to enter the science field as a researcher. She also has hopes of going to Brown University.


Niranjan Senthilkumar--SEAL-IT...Computer-Assisted System for Photographic Mark-Recapture Analysis

Computer Vision, Applied Ecology

Manhasset High School

Hi! We are Niranjan and Vedaant. We live in Manhasset, NY and go to Manhasset Highschool. For us, Computer Science has always been our passions. Specifically, computer vision, training the computer to detect physical features and patterns, has so piqued our interest that for the past two years, we have researched and developed a program that identifies local Harbor Seals based on their spot patterns.Niranjan Senthilkumar is a senior from Manhasset High School. He is currently enrolled in the Manhasset Science Research Program, where he has earned accolades such as the 2015 Google Science Fair Regional Finalist. He enjoys playing guitar and tennis in his free time. Vedaant Kukadia is a senior from Manhasset High School. He is also currently enrolled in the Manhasset Science Research Program, where he has also earned accolades such as the 2015 Google Science Fair Regional Finalist. He plays squash competitively and enjoys coding.


Shomik Jain--The Effect of Bisphenol A on Lactuca Sativa var. Longifolia


Los Gatos High School

My name is Shomik Jain and I am a senior at LGHS. I have been drawn to science and have been curious about exploring the world around me from a young age. I began interested in this study when I saw my brother shooting plastic BB bullets outside. Seeing the plastic bits end up in the garden sparked me to investigate the effects of BPA on plants. I performed all my research in an independent class called Advanced Science Research at my high school.

Farzana Begum--Two-Phase Catalytic Cyanation Reaction In An Ionic Liquid


Queens High School for the Sciences at York College

My name is Farzana Begum, and I am currently a senior at the Queens High School for the Sciences at York College. This research was conducted in Professor Glen Kowach’s inorganic chemistry lab at the City College of New York. My very first research project involved electroplating without the use of electricity, which I presented at NYCSEF the year of 2013. That’s also where I met Professor Kowach. Impressed with my research, he took me into his lab and allowed me to design, and carry out my own research experiment. When I thought about Chemistry, I realized that organic reactions intrigued me the most; however, I was unable to pursue this area of research the previous year, due to lack of materials. Overall, research has been the most challenging yet rewarding aspect of my high school career. My research experience has allowed me to face obstacles numerous times, and whether it be understanding why the FT-IR spectrometer was temporarily not working, or just simply interpreting my data, I eventually learned how to solve my problems or improvise. Research has allowed me to become a better problem solver and it has taught me that science is an enigma. Curiosity leads to questions; questions lead to answers, and answers lead to more questions.

Alexander Pan--Spacing, Not Size, Limits Word Recognition on Highway Signs


The Bronx High School of Science

Doing research at New York University Department of Psychology, it took me time to understand the vastness of the fields of science. I only experienced a small corner of a vast science field that is still being explored. Word Recognition and Visual Perception are fields of science that still developing and are on a smaller scale. This small, yet complex, field of science inspires me to study and learn about academic subjects that aren’t as popular. Visual Perception is a field that is still developing and many aspects of the field are still unknown. The process in which we recognize images is still not yet fully understood. Still, there is vast literature and principles that relate to visual perception. I have learned much about a field that is still in development and only a small field in the context of all science fields. I understand that simply doing one project in a small field does not require me to continue in that field for a career. Doing a project in a developing field has prompted me to explore other fields of science, other than the ones that are popular.

Tara Anand--Gene X Environment Interactions in Systematic Lupus Erythematosus


Horace Greeley High School

I conducted this research project over the course of eight weeks at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston with the help of Dr. Diane Kamen who was my mentor for the project. I became interested in studying autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, when my dad was diagnosed with one. So little is known about the causes of autoimmune diseases and understanding the etiology of these illnesses is incredibly important in finding treatment options and cures.

Maya Berlinger--Proving the Synthetic Lethal Interaction between ARID1A and EZH2 in Hepatocellular Carcinoma


Somers High School

My name is Maya Berlinger and I am a senior in high school. I am enrolled in a three-year Science Research course that I began in tenth grade. Although the course teaches presentation skills and how to find journal articles, I found my mentor independently. I conducted my research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in Manhattan at Dr. Amaia Lujambio’s laboratory. I plan on majoring in chemical or biomedical engineering in college.


Stephanie Shoo--The Effect of Viscosity on the Fluorescence Emissions of Phenylalanine, Tyrosine, and Tryptophan


Queens High School for the Sciences at York College

My name is Stephanie Shoo and I attend Queens High School for the Sciences at York College (class 2017). Over the summer, I joined a research program with my mentor Ruel Desamero to conduct Chemistry experiments. I am also in an Advanced Science Research class in my school, where my teacher Shanaz Baksh promoted us to apply for the program. I started conducting my research because I have had a genuine interest for the sciences for a long time. In the future I hope to major in the field of science.

Cosette Davis--Nitrogen Uptake Differences Between Two Morphologies of Ulva Compressa In Jamaica Bay

Earth and Environmental Sciences

Queens High School for the Sciences at York College

My name is Cosette Davis, and I am a 15-year-old junior attending Queens High School for the Sciences at York College. My interests are very diverse, but most of them can be categorized under either athletics or the arts. I am very passionate about gymnastics (for which I attend a class), cheerleading, and dance. I practice these sports on my own, along with the arts (both visual and performing) of drawing, playing guitar and piano, and singing. In terms of co-curricular activities, I am a member of the Drama Club, Dance Club, Key Club, and Debate Team at my school. Like most teenagers, I occasionally enjoy curling up in bed for hours with either a good book or a full season of a TV show on Netflix. I am currently unsure about my career goals. However, I do know that I am interested in pursuing a job within the STEM field that ties in with education. I like to teach and share my passion with others, and I hope that whatever career path I follow will allow me to do just that. 


Simone Konrad--Observing Trafficking Behaviors in Mutated Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator Protein


Briarcliff High School

I worked at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia with Dr. Ronald Rubenstein and Laurence Suaud for the past two summers on this research. I studied this material because I had an interest in genetics and my sister has a rare condition called Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia. It is similar to Cystic Fibrosis and uses many of the same therapies that were created for CF patients. I have found that studying CF has allowed me to reach a large population of not only CF patients but also patients like my sister that have similar conditions and indirectly depend on CF research. This allows me to amplify the impact that my research and further research can have on the scientific community.

Kayla Keriazes--Biomimicry of Sharkskin to Improve Hydrodynamics


Manhasset High School

This study was conducted by current juniors, Kayla Keriazes and Jessalyn Chuang, at Manhasset High School in their sophomore year. Both individuals participate in their high school science research program, from which they learned about the Columbia Research Scholars Journal.


Marie Crane--The Antibacterial Efficacy of Essential Oils


American Cooperative School of Tunis

I am an American citizen living in Tunisia and I attend the International Baccalaureate school in Tunis. One of the requirements to receive the IB diploma is the completion of a 4000 word Extended Essay in a subject of choice. I chose biology as my subject since it is the subject that I am the most passionate about and plan to pursue biological studies in university. All of the research presented in the one-page research paper I submitted to you was conducted for my Extended Essay. Obviously, one page is significantly less than 4000 words, so I condensed the methods, results, and analysis for my extended essay into a brief one-page document for submission to CSRJ. The possibility of being published in a scholarly research journal thrills me, since biological research is my current career plan. Thank you for considering my research paper for publication in your journal.


Lily Kolb--Visual Adaptation in Schizophrenia


The Bronx High School of Science

As a sophomore at Bronx Science, I did not take the research class offered to us; this class assisted us in finding a mentor to conduct research under. Instead, I applied for internships on my own and chose the Daniel R. Tishman Cognitive Neurophysiology Lab at Albert Einstein College of Medicine to conduct research. I am blind in my left eye, so neuroscience and, more specifically, malfunctions of the brain was something I have always wanted to study. When the opportunity presented itself to study a schizophrenia, a disease which does not have much information known about its causes, I started right away.

Sajeev Saluja--Analysis of Candida Albicans Cell Adhesion Proteins for Amyloid-like Association

Computational Biology

Monta Vista High School

I am a junior at Monta Vista High School. After taking a programming course at school, I fell in love with computers and programming, which led me to focus on computational research. I believe that computational work has the potential to revolutionize research and the way we approach complicated problems in the future. Additionally, I have always been interested in biology, so being able to work with computers on complex biological systems is extremely appealing to me. Outside of research, I am heavily involved in debate, and I like to play the piano.

Raymond Huffman--Inhibition of mTOR by Rapamycin Induces Neurodegeneration at the Drosophilia Neuromuscular Junction


Manhasset High School

Raymond Huffman is a junior at Manhasset High School. He enjoys research and computer science, competes in Mock Trial competitions, and is an avid musician, playing both the clarinet and saxophone. He is a member of both his high school's ensemble and the Nassau-Suffolk Wind Symphony. When he is not practicing his instruments or working on his research projects, Raymond enjoys programming. He has written applications for the Pebble Smartwatch and is currently developing an app for iOS. Michael Lee is a junior at Manhasset High School who loves to play the piano and eat delicious food. He also runs track and field in the 400m hurdles, fences as an epee, and competes at math competitions. Michael favorite activity is programming, especially in image rendering, machine learning, and app development. Additionally, he likes to keep up to date with the best research of today, and pursue research in the most interesting fields.

Kimberly Te--Natural, Cost-Effective Anodes for Optimized Sediment Microbial Fuel Cells

Environmental Engineering

Manhasset High School

Kimberly Te was Team Lead. Christine Yoo was an additional high school author. For this research, Kimberly and Christine were awarded the Grand Prize of a $100,000 scholarship in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology. They were also Finalists for Intel ISEF and International Sustainable World Energy Engineering Environment Project Olympiad (I-SWEEEP). They were 1st place winners in the New York State Science and Engineering Fair and have received awards from Ricoh, NOAA, Yale University, Arizona State University, US Congress, and more. As a naturally curious and passionate woman of STEM, Kimberly has been involved with research for over five years as a science co-curricular. Kimberly also a nationally award-winning artist and writer.  In the future, Kimberly hopes to become a leading engineer and solve our planet’s environmental issues. Christine hopes to major in Chemical Engineering. Besides science, she enjoys community service and music. She participates in a program called TASSEL. She is also involved in her school's marching band and plays flute.


Kevin Heom--Nanofluidic Energy Harvesting Using Streaming Current Through Porous Channels

Sustainable Energy

Dwight-Englewood School

Kevin Heom lives in Ridgewood, NJ. After an experience with dye-sensitized solar cells in his sophomore chemistry class sparked his curiosity, he thought that seeking authentic laboratory experience would further excite him. He spent months searching for research opportunities until he was finally invited to work in Professor Chang-Hwan Choi's Nano and Microfluidics Laboratory at the Stevens Institute of Technology, where he worked on an energy harvesting research project. Upon receiving a generous scholarship, Kevin transferred to Dwight-Englewood School in his junior year of high school, where he is currently a senior. He hopes to inspire more students at his school to participate in research and science competitions since very few, if any, have done so in recent history. Kevin is very passionate about innovative solutions that target challenges to humans' ability to produce sustainable energy because it is a crucial area of societal need.