Thomas (Tommy) Bocian, a 10th grade student at Princeton Day School, participated in the 2017 Waksman Institute Summer Experience (WISE) at Rutgers University, and had the opportunity to work on a research project focused on the DNA sequence analyses of genes from a plant. Susan E. Coletta, Senior Science Education Specialist at the Waksman Institute, wrote the school announcing that "the analyses conducted by Thomas resulted in five publications, which can now be used by practicing scientists worldwide."
Only 36 students from high schools in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina were chosen after a competitive application process to attend WISE last summer. In the 10-day program, students participated in a research project based in molecular biology and bioinformatics. Ms. Coletta wrote, "The research project focused on DNA sequence analyses of genes from the duckweed plant, Landoltia punctata¸ and how these genes compare to those found in other plant species and organisms. Duckweed is a fresh-water aquatic plant that is of interest to the scientific community because of its use in bioremediation, and its potential use as a biofuel."
During the WISE course, Tommy and his fellow students attended science seminars and worked in a college laboratory with instruction from researchers. As a culminating activity, each lab team of two students developed a poster about their investigations and defended it to invited guests, including university faculty and students. Tommy's DNA sequence analyses were suitable for publication on GenBank, an international online repository of DNA sequence data that is maintained by the National Center for biotechnology information (NCBI), which is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Ms. Coletta added, "Thomas accomplished a great deal during this two-week period. With this level of enthusiasm for scientific research, it is important that these achievements be recognized."