Bones will be bones — except when the extracellular matrix of cells control size, shape and composition.
The concept is Huntington High School senior Holly Flores' focus in her project titled "A Study of the Extracellular Matrix in Dental Pulp Stem Cell Differentiation with and without Static Magnetic Fields." Flores was recently named one of 96 regional finalists in the Siemens Foundation Competition for her work, which entailed engineering bones and manipulating the external environment of the extracellular matrix.
2,436 students registered for the competition and 2,541 submitted projects.
"I am so honored to be chosen as a regional finalist," said Flores. "Long Island and throughout New York are home to one of the biggest research cores in the world, and each year increasingly more young students are researching at professional levels. There are so many talented students out there who have done amazing projects that I simply cannot believe I was chosen from the state."
Another senior, Juli Coraor, was named semi-finalist in the competition, which bills itself the "nation's most coveted teen science prize."
"It's hard to find words to describe the accomplishments of Holly and Juli," said teacher Lori Kenny, the science and research program head at Huntington. "They are so driven and filled with excitement it's contagious."
Flores will go head-to-head this coming week, presenting her research, with a partner, Austin Wild of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, as the Siemens Regional Finals will be held at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh Nov. 18-19.
“We will present our research to many renowned scientists,” Flores said. “It is there where we will find out if we make it to the national finals."
Flores is eyeing several schools next year, including the University of North Carolina, the University of Southern California and Columbia, but her goals are clear.
“I want to major in either biomedical engineering and focus on cell biology,” Flores said. “It’s my goal to attain an MD/PhD.”
Funded by the Siemens Foundation, the competition is open to high school students grades 9 through 12. Each year, about are awared annualy $7 million in scholarships are awarded annualy through the event.