2020 TREES Scholars
Amber Li was a rising sophomore at Council Rock High School North when she attended TREES. With a strong interest in water quality, and seeing Philadelphia’s water quality decline due to obsolete combined sewer overflow systems, Amber performed an analysis of the association between rainfall and coliform concentrations in 4 locations in Philadelphia. She extracted data of the fecal coliform counts from 8 years of publicly published Philadelphia water reports. She was also able to gather the rainfall data from authoritative data sources for each sampling date as well as monthly rainfall in the same areas. In her research, Amber specifically looked for fecal coliform, a non-harmful bacteria, as its presence is the most accurate indicator of pathogens in the water. Amber performed the data analysis by applying an ANOVA test in RStudio and a student T-test for the p-value. In the TREES program, Amber learned valuable skills such as coding on RStudio, performing statistical analyses, learning how to translate coordinates into an interactive map, and including effective communication with professors and peers on data interpretation. She had a unique scientific research experience she would have not gained elsewhere. At school, Amber is actively involved in Environmental Action Club, Science Club, and orchestra as a violist. She is also passionate about various genres of music and viola, daydreaming, and the outdoors. Amber was very grateful for this opportunity to work alongside fellow students and environmental science professionals. She wishes to pursue her scientific research in both high school and college.
My name is Saadya Rao and I am a rising senior at Methacton High School in Pennsylvania. Ever since I participated in my school science fair in 7th grade, I have been interested in developing my scientific career. I did this by participating in my highschool’s Science Fair Team and conducting multiple experiments for science fairs, mostly in the microbiology field. Because of TREES, I also discovered more interesting fields of study like environmental health, pharmacology, and epidemiology. As my passion for scientific research grew, so did my interest for computer science. The TREES program helped me bring these two interests together and implement them in my final project: a data analysis on the impact of hydraulic fracturing on soft tissue cancer and extraosseous sarcomas in children. After reading about hydraulic fracturing and its effects on rural communities, I was prompted to use public data to see if I could find a correlation between the number of sarcoma cases and fracking wells. I am thankful that I got the opportunity to work with the TREES mentors, graduate students, and professors. I would recommend this program for anyone who wishes to learn more about environmental health and deepen their scientific research knowledge.
Charlie Sywulak-Herr was a rising sophomore at Cheltenham High School in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania when he participated in TREES. He did two projects centered around the invasive Spotted Lanternfly after noticing massive amounts of them crawling up and down his house and in his yard. They pose a major threat to U.S. agriculture and native ecosystems, so he wanted to experiment with different methods of control for the Spotted Lanternfly. In the first project, he compared different brands of tree tapes for their effectiveness in capturing the Spotted Lanternfly. In the second project, he tested how far a pathogenic fungus called Beauveria bassiana could travel in the form of a biological insecticide from where it was applied through a Spotted Lanternfly population. Beauveria bassiana causes white muscardine disease in the lanternflies, which causes white, fuzzy spores to grow out of them and kills them. Physical traps, such as tree tapes, can only affect a small area. He realized that control through a biological insecticide could be much more practical if it could affect a significantly larger area, especially in a suburban environment; if it had a large range of effectiveness, less households would need to take action in order to have an effect on the Spotted Lanternfly population. In school, he participates in the Environmental Club, is on the tennis team, and plays the violin. Outside of school he is also involved with several social and environmental justice organizations. In his freetime he is often reading, learning different languages, or wandering through his neighborhood. Even with TREES being virtual this year due to Covid-19, it was still an incredible experience that could not have been matched.
Aaron Lewis was a rising junior at Neshaminy High School when he participated in TREES. Aaron had an interest in the environmental effects of factory farms and their effect on surrounding communities. At that time the COVID-19 pandemic was going on so he investigated whether zip codes with high densities of factory farms correlated with increased death rates and cases per 10,000 residents. At school, Aaron is involved in FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) and the Tennis Team. Outside of school, Aaron is a member of The Knowledge Society and he enjoys reading and discussing philosophy, history, and entrepreneurship. He wants to pursue a research career in computer science or biology and is specifically interested in human longevity and ways to combat the aging process. Aaron is very grateful for having had the opportunity to participate in TREES, and would like to thank UPenn, CEET, and all the mentors for an awesome opportunity!
Akhansha Arvind was a rising junior at Hopewell Valley Central High School when she participated in TREES. She was interested in studying the effects of plastics on human health and hence decided to focus her research on bisphenol A (BPA), bisphenol S (BPS), and bisphenol F (BPF). BPA, BPS, and BPF are chemicals commonly found in food and beverage contact plastics. They are known to be endocrine disruptors (meaning that they mimic and interfere with hormones in the human body) and are linked to various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. Since urinary bisphenol concentration is an indicator of a person’s exposure to bisphenols, Akhansha used NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data to investigate trends in urinary bisphenol concentrations. She found that there was a decrease in BPA concentrations from 2003 to 2016, likely due to regulatory legislation and widespread public awareness about BPA’s health effects. She also found a significant decrease in BPF concentrations but no significant change in BPS concentrations from 2013 to 2016. Akhansha believes that it is important to continue to observe these trends so that the effectiveness of legislation and public awareness can be determined. Outside of school, Akhansha is a classical dancer and student-teaches at her dance school. She is also involved in her school’s environmental initiatives and is co-president of an environmental club. Akhansha really enjoyed her time at TREES and feels that it was an incredibly valuable experience. She highly recommends the program to anyone interested in environmental health and research.
I was a rising senior at Central Bucks East during my time at TREES. Last summer (2019), I travelled to Belize and performed marine conservation on the country’s barrier reef, which first prompted my interest in the marine environment. Through TREES, I was connected with Dr. Camille Gaynus, a TREES alumni, and worked with her on her post-doc research. With Camille, I focused on the manipulation of nutrients and herbivory population to see its effects on algae growth within a subset of disturbed coral reef ecosystems. In the long term, we hope to observe changes in coral reef health as a result of these variables and the observed algae growth. Outside of TREES I run cross country and track, am a student advisor for my school’s MiniTHON (dance marathon), enjoy art, and am part of various other clubs at my school. In the future, I hope to pursue my interests in marine biology and environmental science. Although this year’s program was virtual, I am still very grateful for the opportunities I was given during TREES, and I highly encourage others to apply.
Hannah Gao was a rising sophomore at Harriton High School in Pennsylvania, when she attended the summer TREES program. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, she was unable to conduct experiments in the laboratory; however, this provided a unique opportunity for her to carry out a data-driven research project. Since the pandemic had greatly influenced her life and the community around her, Hannah decided to explore factors that may influence the transmission and prognosis of COVID-19. She was especially interested in examining how environmental factors like air quality were related to COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. It was during this time that she learned about various programming softwares, statistical-analysis tools, and research methods to aid her study. Using softwares like R and QGIS, Hannah was able to map the distribution of COVID-19 and run statistical tests to determine whether an association existed between air pollutants and various disease metrics. TREES was an incredible experience for her and she has been inspired to continue her research to help the society around her. At school, Hannah participates in various clubs such as Science Olympiad and Math Club, and in her free time she enjoys playing tennis and the violin.
2019 TREES Scholars
Isabel Portner was a rising sophomore at Julia Reynolds Masterman High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when she attended the TREES program. Isabel is interested in biology, toxicology, and environmental concerns that have impacts on our public life. When Isabel was investigating the harmful pollutants found in the public water, she came across the carcinogenic metal Chromium-6. This metal is highly soluble in water and can cause both digestive and respiratory diseases/cancers. After further research, she discovered that this cancerous metal is above the health guideline level in 50 states of America. Isabel was interested in testing different types of filtration techniques that could lower Chromium-6 levels in the drinking water. She decided to use ion-exchange resins, which can attract charged substances in water. She tested the efficiency of a Cation resin and a mixed bead Anion/Cation resin using a UV spectrophotometer. At her school, Isabel is a member of the Science Olympiad team, Voices: school newspaper, Girls Varsity Tennis team, Masterman Chamber Orchestra and competes for local and national science fairs each year. In her free time, Isabel enjoys reading books, writing journals, drawing, painting, photography and relaxing on the beach. Isabel is deeply grateful for her time at TREES and enjoyed working alongside students, and her mentor, Jessica Murray. She will remember her weekly site vistes to CCMUA (Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority), historic Bartram’s Garden and late evenings at the lab, recording the results from the spectrophotometer. Isabel learned valuable skills during her time at the TREES program, and she hopes to continue scientific research in college. She is interested in pursuing a profession of biomedical engineering or cancer research.
Nathaniel was a rising sophomore at William W. Bodine High School for International Affairs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when he attended TREES. His passions include the process of growing and nurturing plants as well as caring for his six pets. He wanted these interests to be combined into his research project, so that’s just what he did. At his time in TREES, he studied the population and sizing of bear, deer, and turkey in Pennsylvania to see if fracking had any effect these animals. Using GIS software, open data, and the guidance of his mentors Katie and Arden, he created a map of Pennsylvania that showcased high animal activity regions (game lands, state forests, and state parks), fracking wells across the state, and the difference in animal harvesting numbers over the years. In school, Nathaniel is apart of the Environmental and world affairs clubs. He enjoys spending time with his friends and the art of photography. In his free time out of school, he enjoys caring for his three cats, his dog, and his two hermit crabs along with going on adventures with his family and best friend. Nathaniel’s time at TREES showed him exactly what he was looking for, that environmental science doesn’t always mean you’re stuck in a lab. He enjoyed the more hands on and research heavy portions of his project. He knows that he will always cherish his time in the TREES program and that he will continue to use the skills and ideas he gained from this program to help the environment as much as he can.
Shreya Patil was a rising senior at Methacton High School in Eagleville, PA when she attended TREES. Shreya is very passionate about plastic pollution among other environmental problems, and focused her research on bioplastics. One of the most common types of bioplastics is polylactic acid (PLA), which can be derived from lactic acid. Shreya used ion exchange chromatography to isolate lactic acid from acid whey, a waste by-product of industries making Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese, etc. In order to create PLA, the lactic acid must be very pure, which is why the ion exchange is necessary. She has done research regarding bioplastics is prior years, as a member and officer of the MHS Science Fair Team. Outside of TREES, Shreya is also involved in female empowering organizations, such as Girl Scouts, She’s the First, and Girls Who Code. Additionally, she pursues her interest in art and painting through her art Instagram account and as President of her school’s chapter of the National Art Honors Society. Her other interests include coding, cooking, volunteering, and playing tennis. She hopes to study engineering and business during college in the future.
Krisangi Bhargava was a rising sophomore at The Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, PA when she participated in TREES. Her project revolved around using Geographic Information System (GIS) to perform a risk assessment for hydraulic fracturing and Superfund sites draining into water bodies in the Susquehanna and Delaware Watershed. Hydraulic fracturing is an unconventional oil and gas extraction technique, in which rock is fractured by pressurized liquid. Superfund sites are places that the Environmental Protection Agency has declared unsafe for human health, often due to their possession of contaminated and hazardous waste. While there are regulations in place regarding the distance a hydraulic fracturing / Superfund site needs to be from a body of water, often times during rain storms harmful chemicals from these sites end up flowing downstream into these water sources. To better assess the situation, she first used a basemap of Pennsylvania, graphed the hydraulic fracturing sites, and then added on the Delaware and Susquehanna watersheds and rivers. From there she graphed the Superfund sites, and then used various symbology tools to display whether they were surface or ground water based. Using elevation data and spatial analysis tools, she mapped the lowest points of counties in Pennsylvania, and performed a risk assessment of the most at-risk sites for draining into bodies of water. Outside of TREES, Krisangi can be found practicing ballet at her dance studio, playing music on the piano, or taking computer science classes at school. Krisangi truly enjoyed her time at TREES, as she learned valuable lessons about GIS and oil extraction regulations. She recommends TREES to anyone interested in learning about environmental science and research.
Lea was a rising sophomore at Council Rock High School South when she attended TREES. During her time there, she investigated fixed-bed activated charcoal filters as a means of remediating antibiotics from drinking water. Her project centered around amoxicillin, a derivative of penicillin, and was concerned mostly with the development of antibiotic resistance due to continuous exposure to antibiotics used for treatment. She also conducted studies on E. coli to test the efficacy of amoxicillin dissolved in water in killing bacteria before and after filtration. Finally, she explored the regeneration of spent activated charcoal for further reuse. Outside of school, she volunteers at her local nature center, participates in Model UN, and is very involved in music. Lea is a recipient of the Settlement Music School Advanced Study Scholarship and is a violinist in the Gail W. Snitzer Advanced Study String Quartet, as well as a first violinist in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra.
Sophia Jarrar was a rising sophomore when she entered the TREES program. Her project centered around the bioremediation of 3-Nitrobenzanthrone, an extremely potent carcinogen found in diesel exhaust. She collected soil and water samples from around Philadelphia and the suburban region to test bacteria for possible resistance. Outside of TREES, she is a competitive figure skater and works in her community with her environmental education club at school.
Sonia Joseph was a rising junior when she attended the TREES Program. She worked to test the degradation of cooking oil and find possible way of quantifying this in at home test. In her time in the lab, she conducted research on a Reichardt’s dye which changes color in the presence of degraded oil due to the polar compounds. In school, Sonia is a part of the cross country team, crew, Science Olympiad, and the founder of the Women in Writing club. In her free time, Sonia likes to sleep, eat, bake, and participate in charity fun runs. Her love of animals (especially cows) triggered her interest in environmental science. Sonia genuinely treasured her time at TREES, and knows that she will use the skills she’s learned while attending the program.
I am a rising senior at Abington Friends School in Jenkintown, PA. For my research I analyzed federal Census of Agriculture data to look at possible effects of hydraulic fracturing on agriculture in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions of the northeastern United States. Specific areas I investigated included farm size, farm labor, and the dairy sector. Initially I divided counties I was studying into simple quartiles based on fracking well density to compare changes in agricultural variables over time; later, I used an ordinary least squares regression to quantify the statistical significance of my results while also attempting to account for confounding factors. Throughout my research I utilized the mapping software ArcGIS, first as a way to visually compare county changes in agricultural variables with fracking sites and later to run the regression and determine possible spatial correlations among residuals. Many thanks to my mentors Katie and Arden for helping me to learn GIS skills and basic statistics, as well as Dr. Field for his guidance and advice throughout my research.
When not working on my project, you can find me practicing piano, playing ultimate, and attending climate change workshops and demonstrations with the Sunrise Movement.
2018 TREES Scholars
I am a rising sophomore at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, and this summer I am using a series of firefly luciferase reporter cell line assays to analyze DNA damage and the human cell’s stress response to various compounds found in water contaminated by hydraulic fracturing processes. Using fracking samples collected in Eagle Ford, Texas, I developed a project that aimed to effectively separate the samples into organic, aqueous (“flow-through”), and pure fractions, and then measure the varying toxicity of these separated fluids. My project involved activated carbon-filter cartridges for sample separation, cell growth and culture technique development, and high-tech screening processes to measure luminescence (corresponding to p53 activity) as a result of fluid exposure. In addition to my fracking fluid toxicity analysis project, I’ve started a longer-term study of microclimate heat anomalies that result from the intensification of ambient temperatures due to high heat-capacity urban fabrics, low levels of transpiring vegetation, complex urban geometry and fluid convection, and anthropogenic heat emissions–in short, the various factors of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. Specifically, I want to examine this issue through the lens of environmental justice by utilizing public health data on heat disorders, population density information, and data layers detailing socioeconomic status, race, and income on the census block level. By using these correlations and determining the areas of highest heat disorder vulnerability–also termed “hot spots”–I will attempt to develop strategies to best advise the city of Philadelphia on the most productive locations to mitigate heat wave effects through street tree planting and the installation of green roofs. I will continue to delve deeply into social vulnerability index development utilized by previous studies through statistical principal components and factor analysis.
Outside of TREES, I compete on my school’s Science Olympiad team, march with Drum Corps International, volunteer at the Academy of Natural Sciences, and bottle-flip to the best of my ability. Academically, my interests lie chiefly in geological sciences, remote sensing, and mathematics. TREES has already been the best summer experience I could have imagined; I’ve developed more advanced skills in GIS and spatial analysis, spent valuable hours perfecting lab technique and experimenting in the biosafety hood, and learned how to better simplify vast databases worth of information into digestible functions and conclusions. I highly recommend this program to any high school student with passions for environmental studies, public health, or the scientific research process.
Erin Roman was a rising senior at the Baldwin School when she participated in the TREES program. After bouncing around from idea to idea, she ended up exploring the mutagenicity of aqueous and organic components of fracking fluid through the use of a metabolic activated ames test. At school, she is a member of many clubs, one of which includes being the head of the Environmental Science club. Academically, she is interested in studying the intersection of both visual arts and environmental science. Although this combination is unconventional, she believes the key to reaching large audiences is by making information easily digestible. This is where creativity steps in, and in the future, she hopes to utilize art to express environmental concerns. She highly recommends this wonderful experience to anyone interested in conducting independent research in the field of environmental science.
2017 TREES Scholars
Alex Andrews was a rising junior at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees, New Jersey when he attended the TREES program. He conducted multiple Ames tests on various hair dyes and their components along with a partner in order to find out if either hair dyes and/or their components were mutagenic. Outside of TREES, Alex enjoys running cross country and track, playing soccer, participating in Model United Nations, and being a member of his school’s Interact club. He hopes to study something in the sciences in college.
Anita Chacko was a rising sophomore when she attended the TREES Program. She worked along side another student to test the toxicity of hair dyes and find possible mutagens. In her time in the lab, she conducted reasearch on a chemical found in hair dye called P-phenylenediamine (PPD) which is extremely mutagenic, especially when oxidized with H202 – an ingredient also in hair dye. In school, Anita is a part of the soccer team, set design, yearbook, and rotary club. In her free time, Anita likes to sleep, eat, blog, and participate in public speaking competitions. Her love of animals (especially sheep) triggered her interest in environmental science. Anita genuinely treasured her time at TREES, and knows that she will use the skills she’s learned while attending the program.
I am a rising senior at Methacton High School in Pennsylvania. I first became interested in science after doing a science fair project on weed killers in sixth grade. Since then, I have participated in science fair every year, conducting research on topics in chemistry, consumer science, behavioral science, and earth science. During TREES, I became interested in the issue of antibiotic pollution. The manufacture of antibiotics results in effluent that is often inadequately treated and dumped into bodies of water. Antibiotic residue in this effluent induces natural selection for bacteria in these bodies of water, resulting in the proliferation of antibiotic resistant bacteria and genes. The spread of these antibiotic resistant bacteria is now a major new environmental health problem that could mean an end to the effectiveness of many of the antibiotics we currently use. My TREES research focused on methods of removing antibiotics from water through the use of filtration and UV irradiation. At TREES, I learned that scientific research is difficult. It is one thing to plan out an experiment and execute it but a completely different thing to respond to the results of that experiment and alter your methodology to overcome unexpected challenges. Science is seldom straightforward and truly a process of learning and discovery. In the future, I hope to pursue a meaningful career in medicine, business, law, or statistics. At Methacton, I am president of the history bowl team, secretary for the science fair team, and treasurer of the investment club, in addition to being a member of the robotics club, mock trial team, and class congress. Outside of school, I love to sleep, catch up on the news, run, and volunteer at a computer refurbishing center and a bird sanctuary.
I am a rising senior at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA. I greatly valued my time at TREES because of the flexibility it gave me to choose my own project, the personal attention it offered by allowing me to stroll into Dr. Field’s office at any time, and the ability to stay close to home while having experiences far beyond anything I ever imagined. During my time at TREES, I used cell-based assays (the MTT and p53 Luciferase Assay) to test the toxicity of fracking fluid. I used different filtration methods (including dissolving the fluid in ethyl acetate) to filter the fracking fluid into different fractions (such as an organic and aqueous fraction), then tested the different fractions in the assays. If one of the fractions is noticeably more toxic than the others, than we can target filtration efforts to that particular portion of fracking fluid.
At school, I lead my school’s Science Olympiad team, run Cross Country and Track, and serve as a senior editor for my school newspaper. Outside of school, I have published papers in the field of environmental history, studied abroad through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth, edited two literary magazines, and folded origami dragons. I am still undecided on my future career, but I am leaning towards some mix of science and policy. I am deeply grateful for the research experience that TREES provided me with because it gave me the opportunity to learn about science careers and research in a low-stress environment. I highly encourage you to apply for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Gaea Lawton was a rising senior while she was at the TREES program. Her project focused on assessing the toxicological effects of compounds found in food wrappers and popcorn butter through the use of cell-based assays. In her free time, Gaea is an avid member of Mock Trial, takes part in various musicals, and participates in science fairs. Gaea is extremely grateful for the TREES program for giving her such a wonderful opportunity.
Connie Liu was a rising junior from Upper Dublin High School when she attended the TREES program. Her project focused on determining the amount of bisphenol S content in thermal paper receipts that are “BPA free”. This project interested her because she was looking up endocrine disruptors, or chemicals that simulate different hormones. She tested to find the most efficient method of extraction and then used that to roughly determine the amount of exposure. When she isn’t thinking about her project, Connie spends her free time playing tennis, hanging out with her friends, writing poetry, and drawing. She is involved with her school’s literary magazine in addition to a barrage of other clubs. She also enjoys interacting with children through science demonstrations, art classes, and her library’s reading program. In the future she hopes to contribute positively to the world in some way. She appreciates the guidance the TREES community has given her.
Durga Ramachandran was a rising senior at Council Rock High School South when she attended the TREES program. Millions of people around the world are affected by a disease known as fluorosis, caused by the consumption of water which is highly concentrated in fluoride. This toxic water is absorbed in crops during irrigation, found in wells, and found in the public water supply in cases where the water has been over-fluoridated. Chronic exposure to fluoride causes dental and skeletal decay as the enamel wears down and the bones calcify. During her time at TREES, she investigated a variety of materials to find a cost-efficient and simple filter for fluoride. She learned a multitude of new skills during her project, including how to utilize the spectrophotometer and how to use the conductivity meter. In her free time, she likes to play the violin, sing in her choir group, and volunteer at the library. She would highly recommend the TREES program to anyone with an interest in research and environmental protection.
I am a rising junior at Upper Dublin High School and I investigated the bioremediation of caffeine while at TREES. I chose to research this topic because I have spent a lot of time on the river, as an avid kayaker. In my free time, I enjoy playing tennis, swimming, kayaking, snowboarding, and golfing. At school, I participate in Science Olympiad, Future Business Leaders of America, and science fairs. This summer, I was fortunate enough to research and learn about the environment, through the TREES program. Early in the TREES program, I visited the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority and learned about the amount of caffeine discharged into bodies of water. Caffeine significantly impacts marine organisms by increasing stress proteins produced in certain organisms and can reduce fish populations. I was inspired to research caffeine because the amount of caffeine released into the environment is not regulated and is on the rise. During my time in the lab, I experimented with Escherichia Coli and Pseudomonas putida– a bacteria that has previously been known to break down caffeine. I also experimented with P. putida and E. coli in different mediums to determine if the bacteria could break down caffeine in the presence of other carbon sources or when isolated. My project could be introduced to wastewater plants if the Pseudomonas putida can break down the caffeine. Throughout TREES, I learned about the importance of proper lab procedures such as sterility, safety, and research methods and I will value the skills that this program has provided me with.
I am a rising sophomore at Harriton High School in Lower Merion Township and I am interested in the effects of fracking wastewater on human health. Since the turn of the century, fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, has boomed as a method of natural gas and oil extraction. However, fracking generates massive amounts of wastewater which contains many heavy metals and other compounds released from deep within the ground during the process of fracking. This wastewater can contaminate the drinking water of communities near fracking activity. My project looked at the specific vs. non-specific toxicity of fracking wastewater and the presence of heavy metals those samples. I was able to learn how to culture cells and perform various assays with cells for my experiments. Through my summer at TREES, I have learned about the importance of sterile technique and other laboratory skills. In the future, I hope to continue to study earth sciences.
2016 TREES Scholars
I am a rising junior at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, and I’m interested in groundwater and water pollution. This interest lead me to investigate the carcinogenic effects of fracking fluids and the water sources they contaminated. After high school, I plan to pursue a career in Environmental Science or Earth Science. Ever since the discovery of the Marcellus Shale, fracking in Pennsylvania has been huge. Fracking provides an economic benefit to the state but there is a lack of regulations that establish guidelines on what fracking companies are permitted to do. For this reason, more and more fracking-related cases of drinking water contamination have been identified. They are believed to be caused by the un-regulated dumping of fracking fluids into surface water, and the contamination of groundwater caused by the fracking process. During my time in TREES, I explored the potential for water from fracking sites to cause cancer. If there are clear implications between the levels of contamination at a water site to its proximity to fracking wells, we can then figure out how these water sites are getting contaminated and identify a practical way to remediate them. We can also raise awareness throughout communities that are near fracking wells and recommend new sources for their drinking water. One of the more useful skills I learned, apart from learning how to run experiments and use lab equipment, is how to think like a scientist. I have learned how to be independent in a lab setting, think of positive and negative controls for particular experiments, and most importantly, figure out what I did wrong in a failed experiment and learn from the mistakes. I have also learned about ‘dry science’, and the importance of it, which I previously wasn’t aware of.
I am a rising senior at Central Bucks High School West in Pennsylvania and am very interested in bioremediation, which is the use of naturally occurring microorganisms to break down environmental pollutants. This interest compelled me to conduct a project on the effects of a bacterium known as Bacillus cereus on 3- Nitrobenzanthrone, a carcinogen found in diesel exhaust. I wanted to investigate whether the introduction of this naturally occurring microbe could lessen the harmful effects of this potent mutagen. After high school, I plan to continue my research as well as investigate the effects of natural microbes on oil pollution. In contemporary society, automobiles spewing out diesel exhaust are commonplace. However, this form of pollution often releases a potent carcinogen known as 3-NBA, which has proven to have harmful, carcinogenic effects on numerous mammals. This summer, I focused on the bioremediation of 3- NBA through the use of Bacillus cereus, a bacteria known to break down basic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. If B. cereus is proven to be able to break down 3-NBA or reduce the carcinogenic effects of the substance, bioremediation could prove to be a viable alternative to break down this harmful mutagen that pollutes the soil, air, and common water sources. Currently, there remains little to no research on breaking down nitro-PAHs through the use of bacteria or other methods. Through this experience, I have learned everything from researching a topic thoroughly to conducting cutting-edge research in a lab. In addition to being shown how lab work can be translated into a career, investigating this bacteria and carcinogen has opened my eyes to how much more there is to learn and has truly inspired me to pursue a future in research.
2015 TREES Scholars
During the summer of 2015, I was a rising junior at Conestoga High School in Berwyn, PA. Since I’ve long been interested in pursuing a science career, I was grateful for the opportunity to gain valuable research experience in Dr. Field’s lab with the TREES program. I highly recommend that any high school student interested in research or environmental science apply. Outside the lab, I enjoy reading, drawing and catching up on lost sleep over the weekends. At Conestoga, I participate in track and field, write for the school newspaper, compete in Science Olympiad, volunteer for Key Club and study environmental topics for Envirothon. In the United States, eutrophication first became a major environmental concern in the 1960s, after years of widespread chemical fertilizer use. Eutrophication, caused by both manmade and natural factors, is characterized by increased nutrient content in bodies of water which causes proliferation of plants and algae. Excessive plant and algal growth triggers imbalances in ecosystems, mass die-offs of aquatic life and reduces drinking water quality. Runoff from fields and lawns treated with chemical fertilizers containing nitrates and phosphates are a primary contributor to the eutrophication problem. In remote rural areas outside the United States, methaemoglobinaemia, or blue baby syndrome, remains a health issue. The name “blue baby syndrome” refers to the blue tint of an affected child’s skin that results from drinking water contaminated with high levels of nitrates. For my research project, I hoped to experiment with an affordable, efficient method of filtering nitrates out of water. I hypothesized that concrete was a promising solution to my question. Scientific research I read suggested that nitrates could possibly become bound within the concrete matrix. However, no studies so far have investigated the possibility exploiting this property for water filtration. Through this research experience, I learned to not be afraid to try new solutions to already solved problems – no matter how far out they might seem! To the contrary of many animal lovers, I must agree with the adage that there is really more than one way to skin a cat. I also gained practical lab skills such as pipetting small amounts of liquid, using a colorimetric assay and operating a spectrophotometer.
After living in a big city such as Philadelphia for most of my life, I realized that cigarette butts are a nuisance to the environment not only visual but also biologically. It eventually dawned upon me that it is possible that the tobacco remaining in the cigarettes could pose negative effects even after the cigarette is put out. Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the United States and is therefore bound to wind up in water ways. With this in mind, I decided to test if tobacco is evident to be carcinogenic in water. If I am able to find that tobacco has the ability to cause water ways to become carcinogenic, then I can provide another reason why people should not litter these small packages of toxins. For example, cigarettes have been proven to produce nitrosamines. Evidence has been shown that nitrosamine exposure to aquatic life has the ability to cause acute toxicity in aquatic life. If my research turns out positive for carcinogens, this will prove that cigarettes are even more harmful to aquatic life as it proves to produce both nitrosamines and carcinogens in water. After being given the privilege to work in a lab for 10 weeks, I gained many essential lab skills thanks to my mentors along the way. All of the skills I learned will give me the ability to apply them to future research projects.
I am a rising sophomore at Germantown Friends School. I have always loved science and medicine. Ever since I was little, I’ve always told people that when I grow up, I want to cure diseases. My grandfather died from Alzheimer’s, and after watching him lose his memory to the point where he couldn’t even remember his son, I’ve always been especially interested in Alzheimer’s disease. After completing high school, I hope to major in either biology or environmental science and then hopefully continue on to get my M.D. or Ph.D. For my project, I chose to study bacon under different conditions to see if it would be carcinogenic at any point. I tested both cured and uncured bacon, and I tested them at different times and temperatures. I also tested the two types bacon cooked with a microwave and baked in a microwave oven. I wanted to see if any of these factors would be make bacon carcinogenic. If I am able to definitively prove that bacon isn’t carcinogenic when cooked in a microwave and that in a microwave oven, it becomes increasingly carcinogenic the longer you bake it after the recommended cooking time, this will allow people to be much more conscious bacon cookers and consumers. I am also trying to prove that both cured and uncured bacon are carcinogenic under the same conditions, so it doesn’t make a difference if you buy your bacon from Wawa for $5.00 or Whole Foods for $10.00. There have always been some bad vibes associated with eating too much bacon, but nobody has ever specified why it’s actually bad. I hope that by conducting this research, people will have their facts straight about bacon and know not to overbake it in an oven. Before TREES, I had never worked in any type of formal lab setting and I had never even come up with my own research project. Through TREES, I have really understood how science can resolve many global issues, but also that science isn’t easy. Results don’t just come. You have to work hard and troubleshoot and continuously change your assay. I remember when I first had my bacon project idea, I thought it would be so easy and I would get results immediately. However, what I failed to understand, is that failure is not only unavoidable in science, but it is a key instructor to force you to ask more questions about why your assay isn’t working and what you could have done differently. I have specifically learned how to use sterile technique and the importance of it, how to properly measure things and pipet, how different chemicals react to each other and how to use different types of assays to obtain different types of results.
2014 TREES Scholars
Devoted to protecting the environment, Grace Bridy, a rising junior at John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School, knew the TREES program was a perfect fit. She used this opportunity to further research the topic of fracking. Her TREES project studied the toxicity of water collected from fracking sites to reveal some of the underlying potential for health problems. In addition, she developed a web-based survey which will hopefully shed light on youths’ opinions and ideas about fracking. When she is not busy with her scientific studies, you can find her volunteering at the Academy of Natural Sciences or participating in various extracurricular activities. Some of these include Mathletes, Student Council, Ambassadors, Newspaper, Volleyball, or Softball. After high school, she hopes to major in chemistry and minor in environmental sciences and then continue contributing her time and work to the preservation of the environment.
Malley Chertkov was a rising senior at the Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey. She was president of the GSA, Feminist Club, and co-leader of the Better Beginnings service club. She was also part of her school’s a capella singing group and creative writing club. She loves biology and environmental science. Her project studied ways of synthesizing biodegradable plastic from hazardous waste. She hopes to receive a law degree and practice environmental law in the future.
Ralph was a rising junior at the University Scholars Program in West Chester, PA. His project focused on the health and toxicological effects of electronic cigarette ‘smoke’ on cultured cells. In his spare time, Ralph really enjoys shooting archery and participating in boy scouts, along with other activities at his school.
Anisha was a rising junior at the Agnes Irwin School during her time at TREES. Her project consisted of researching the mutagenic properties of biodiesel fuel. When not burning fuels in the lab, Anisha plays volleyball, swims, and is a member of her school’s crew team. She also is co-founder of the STEM club at her school, aimed at increasing girls’ interest in STEM fields. She is a member of her school’s robotics team and is also a representative on her school’s environmental board. TREES was a fabulous experience and she feels lucky to have been a part of the program.
Tyji was a rising senior at Lankenau Environmental Science Magnet High School in Philadelphia when he participated in TREES. His research focused on testing samples from the BP oil spill for carcinogens. When he’s not at TREES, he is either helping the community or at Math Science Upward Bound, a TRIO program for high school students at Temple University. He enjoys playing soccer and tennis during his free time.
Shreya was a rising sophomore at Council Rock High School North during her time at TREES. She has always been interested in learning about cancers along with their respective carcinogens, which gave her the idea to test the effects of ultraviolet radiation. In her free time, she enjoys playing basketball and skating. She is also a member of the Environmental Action Club, Pulsera program, and FCCLA. Shreya was very appreciative of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities she was given at the TREES program.
Rishab was a rising senior at Princeton High School during his time at TREES. About five years ago, a Chinese firm spiked infant formula with melamine to increase the apparent protein concentration. The added melamine sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese babies to the hospital. During the past couple years, scientists have found expensive and time consuming tests. To help society, he is interested in finding a fast, accurate, and inexpensive way to detect melamine in milk. In school, Rishab plays first singles for his tennis team. He also actively volunteers for the March of Dimes, an organization that raises money for premature babies. In the future Rishab hopes to study biomedical engineering.
Weiwei was a rising junior at Baldwin school in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She is really concerned about the air pollution in Bejing. Her project at TREES investigated 3-nitrobenzanthrone, a carcinogen found in diesel exhaust. In the future, she hopes to contribute to the effort of reducing the air pollution in her hometown. When not in the lab, Weiwei swims on her school’s team. She enjoys playing flute and will be joining the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra in the upcoming school year. As the ensemble coordinator of her school’s world music ensemble, she hopes to facilitate cultural interaction with music. She enjoyed her experience working in the lab and thanks everyone who helped her and gave her such an amazing opportunity.
2013 TREES Scholars
Nick is a rising sophomore at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees, New Jersey. His TREES research includes the investigation of cadmium toxicity and its removal from aqueous solutions. He used different methods of filtration and measured his samples using diphenylcarbazone as a dye in a spectro-photometer. At his school, Nick runs cross-country and track, and he swims. He plays soccer for his club team.Nick also participates in Model United Nations, the volunteer club, and the debate team.Nick is very interested in chemistry and engineering and hopes to study them someday.
Sumita was a rising junior at Haverford High School the summer she attended the TREES program. Her environmental project focused on creating biodegradable plastic (PLA) formed through a yogurt waste product known as Lactic Acid. She hopes to fully develop her project to her fullest extent by purifying the acid and molding an eco-friendly cup that the actual yogurt will be filled in. Outside of the lab, Sumita is a figure skater and dancer. She also enjoys participating in many clubs, school activities and community service. Sumita has really enjoyed herself in the duration of the TREES program and hopes that other students apply for this opportunity in the future.
Aria was a rising senior during her time at the TREES program, attending the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur in Villanova. She plays field hockey and softball, and is the co-president of ND Green, her school’s environmental club. She loves to do service, and goes on a mission trip each summer with her friends to make repairs to the homes of those less fortunate. She is also an executive on Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry team, where she heads the Pastoral Life Committee. Her project at TREES was a survey of high school students in the Western Philadelphia suburbs dealing with the choices teenagers make when buying clothing, focusing specifically on their attitudes towards NPEs, a group of endocrine disrupting organic compounds used when treating clothing from many of the brands purchased regularly by high school students.
Alex was a rising junior during his time at the TREES program. He attends J.R. Masterman High School and is a member of the ultimate frisbee team. His main interest is business, and is an active member of Future Business Leaders of America and student government. During his spare time he enjoys cooking and working with plastic models. Since he is always working with different types of art supplies, he decided that his project would test for the toxicity of paint thinner using the Ames test.
Steve is a rising sophomore at Morgantown High School in Morgantown West Virginia. He was concerned about carcinogenic substances in coal fly ash since he’s from West Virginia, the state where coal mining is the main industry. He heard about the medicinal property of green tea, which can prevent cancer from occurring, and wanted to see if green tea can actually prevent cancer or stop it from progressing. He used the Ames test, which can measure carcinogenic levels in a chemical substance. He gave different amounts of green tea extract during the experiment to see if it has any effect on reducing carcinogenic substances in coal fly ash. When not in the lab, he enjoys singing, playing guitar, playing soccer, and playing basketball.
Jasmine is a rising junior at the Baldwin School. She is interested in not only the terrible effects car exhaust has on the environment, but also the effects it has on human health. For her project, she researched how carcinogenic the exhaust from used cooking oil is, and compared it to how carcinogenic the exhaust from regular petroleum diesel is, using the Ames test. When not in the lab, Jasmine figure skates as a member of the Delaware County Skating Club. She also plays tennis on her school team and the violin in her school ensemble. She is part of the Teen Leadership Corp and volunteers at Cradles to Crayons. She started the Kiva club at her school to empower women entrepreneurs all around the world to start their own businesses through micro loaning. She loved her experience at TREES and is grateful that she got to be a part of it.
May is a rising sophomore at Council Rock High School South. Outside of the lab, she is a member of her school’s debate team, orchestra, and choir, and is a violinist in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and Trowbridge Chamber Orchestra. May can usually be found sleeping, reading, practicing her violin, or stressing out about one thing or another. She is interested in convincing the public of environmental issues while also trying to solve them, and hopes to one day work for NASA. During her time at TREES, she researched the repeated use of activated charcoal to filter BPA, an endocrine disruptor, from drinking water.
Chloe is going to be a senior at Lower Moreland High School. Her interests include botany, autoclaves, and sustainable living. In her spare time, Chloe enjoys writing, modeling various lines of autoclave gloves, and playing piano. Her project involved testing whether the insulation used to coat wires is carcinogenic.
2012 TREES Scholars
Mia is a rising sophomore at The Agnes Irwin School. She is interested in learning about sustainable ways of living and is also on her school’s environmental council. When not in the lab, she enjoys reading, running on her school’s cross country team, and catching up on sleep. Her project was focused on turning the harmful air pollutant, NOx, into a calcium nitrate fertilizer. She really liked the TREES program and suggests you apply too!
Ailis is a rising sophomore at Carmel High School in Carmel,California, and her research in TREES investigated the biochemical properties of compounds derived from marine algae. When not in the lab, Ailis can be found volunteering and interpreting at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, participating in local, state, and international science competitions, practicing clarinet, and playing basketball. Ailis is heavily involved in the Teen Conservation Leader program at her local aquarium, has received professional certification through the National Association for Interpretation, and was a 2012 Finalist at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Ailis intends to continue doing independent science research throughout high school and beyond.
Andrew is a rising sophomore at Council Rock High School North. His main environmental concern is the dramatic rise in atmospheric CO2 levels in the past decade, which led to many climate issues. His project this summer at TREES focuses on the concept of iron fertilization, a unique idea of carbon sequestration that uses marine algae to fix CO2.Andrewis trying to determine the optimal iron concentration in the ocean that will stimulate the maximum algae growth, and hence the maximum carbon sequestration, without harming the marine environment.Andrewis also a member of his high school orchestra and the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra.
Faasel is a junior who attends Radnor High School, running cross country in the fall and playing tennis in the spring. In the classroom, Faasel does his work while also finding ways to enjoy himself. When he is not doing academic related things or participating in athletics, you can find Faasel playing MarioKart or Super Smash Bros. Because he has always been interested in business, some can find this young man selling food, toys, and accessories around Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania.At TREES, he is using the Ames Test to determine whether corn and canola oil-derived biofuels are more carcinogenic compared to petroleum diesel.
Alex is a rising junior at the Lawrenceville School. His TREES project focused on the antioxidant capacity of caffeic acid. In his spare time, Alex enjoys reading, photography, and playing with his two younger siblings. Looking towards the future, Alex is still unsure about his career path, but, through TREES, has gained even more interest in scientific research. He hopes to make a difference one day.
Annie Lin is a rising senior at Central High School. During the TREES program, Annie’s project was based on determining different nutrient levels in Philadelphia residents and their diets through survey analysis.Outside of the program, Annie is the president of her school’s environmental club, SEAS (Student Environmental Action Society), in addition to several other clubs and Chinese ribbon dancing. She is interested in pursuing environmental science and/or international business in the future.
Jared was born in 1996 in the sleepy town of Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. He has always had a passion for solving the world’s problems, but in the summer of 2012 he was given the chance of a lifetime. During the TREES program, Jared conducted breakthrough research on fracking fluid and filtering techniques. He will continue to combat the injustices of fracking and change the world.
Michelle is a rising junior at Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, NJ. Her TREES research is focused on studying the potential of various inexpensive materials in removing arsenic from drinking water. When not thinking about water filters, Michelle enjoys playing the flute and reading. She hopes to study engineering and use her passion for science to make a positive difference in the environment and the lives of people around the world.
2011 TREES Scholars
Alesha was a rising junior at Central High School when she attended the TREES program. She is interested in protecting wildlife from the environmental stresses caused by humans. During the TREES program, Alesha attempted to degrade a commonly used pesticide to reduce its toxicity to susceptible species of amphibians.
In the TREES program, Katey Schatz was a rising senior at Central High School. During TREES, Katey’s project was based on determining estrogen in placenta shampoos by using a specific yeast assay called BLYES. She would like to pursue a double major in environmental science and business. Outside of the lab, Katey enjoys editing her school’s literary magazine, singing, and working at the zoo, raising awareness on environmental issues.
Jenny Silver was a rising sophomore at Cherry Hill High School East when she attended the TREES program. Jenny is very interested in environmental history, including the modern environmental movement. Jenny enjoys volunteering at The Academy of Natural Sciences in the Butterflies!exhibit, tending to her organic garden to donate vegetables to shelters, and running her nonprofit organization, Bowling for Bears, which donates teddy bears to children in need. For her project, Jenny studied uses for glycerol, the waste by-product of biodiesel. Jenny used glycerol extracted from biodiesel to grow yeast and E. coli, with the hope of quantifying waste glycerol’s ability to act as a dextrose source. This application of waste glycerol could alleviate the issue of excess glycerol, making biodiesel use more practical
Amidst the green deciduous forests of Wyncote, PA, lived an adolescent aged 16–he was Sahil Singhal. At the first chirps of the birds each morning, little Sahil would rise from the comforts of his bed and make a 1.5 hour journey to the University of Pennsylvania. On the first day that he made this long journey, Sahil pondered over his many hobbies: track and cross country running, debate, and violin among others. On the second day, his thoughts were similar. However, as he set out with the good wishes of the morning birds on the third day, his thoughts were altogether redirected. All he could think about was filtering out arsenic from ground drinking water using iron oxide found in crushed brick. You may wonder, puzzled readers, why the change?
Sahil was growing from a little seed into a splendid T.R.E.E. Each day, as he toiled in the laboratory, the former everyday exceptional rising junior was sturdying his trunk, hardening his bark, and digging his roots a little deeper into the rich soil of scientific knowledge. But this story is not yet concluded, for little Sahil still grows toward that day when he will tower over all mankind as a magnificent Giant Sequoia.
Claire was a rising junior at Radnor High School when she attended the TREES program. She is interested in science—especially biology, chemistry, and biomedical topics. Her project in TREES involved using activated charcoal to filter Basophilia– an endocrine disrupt or— out of drinking water. She aspires to do medical or environmental research one day. In her free time, Claire enjoys playing tennis, practicing the piano, painting, and reading. She also enjoys Milano cookies very much. Claire returned to coordinate the TREES program in the summer of 2012.
Ben was a rising senior at Council Rock High School North during his time at the TREES program. At TREES, Ben researched different methods of sequestering carbon dioxide from emissions by using mineral sequestration and beneficial use of glycerol, an unwanted byproduct of biodiesel production, as a solvent for Calcium Hydroxide. Ben is also an avid member of his schools Environmental Action Club, National Honor Society and Orchestra, and plays violin in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. He currently attends Columbia University (Class of 2016) and plans to major in biology while following a pre-med track.
Wendy Woods was a 15 year-old rising sophomore during her time at the TREES program. She is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and now lives in Philadelphia where she attends Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy. She enjoys playing the piano, playing tennis, and she has a strong passion for exploring scientific issues, especially the environmental effects on animals. Her project focused on removing phosphate rich agricultural runoff from lakes and streams using crushed brick.
When she was at TREES, Sotia was a rising junior at The Grammar School, in Nicosia Cyprus. She is fascinated with environmental issues and is engaged in initiatives trying to decrease environmental pollution. She is hoping to be able to integrate environmental and business studies in college. Sotia is a competitive athlete and a member of the National Karate team of Cyprus with experience in national and international tournaments. At TREES, her research project revolved around the damaging effects of UV radiation and the oxidative damage to cells. She studied the protective antioxidant action of phenolic compounds extracted from known botanicals.
2010 TREES Scholars
During the TREES program, Xiaolei was a rising senior at Downingtown East High School. He enjoys examining scientific issues from a business perspective. During TREES, he tested whether or not biodegradable corn plastic could be used as disposable pipets. His near-future goal is to dual major in chemical engineering and economics. Xiaolei is hoping to save our environment one pipet at a time. He currently attends the University of Pennsylvania and plans to major in finance and systems engineering with an environmental focus.
Peter was a rising sophomore at Haverford High School the summer he attended TREES. He is very interested in preserving the environment so that life can continue to exist on Earth. In the TREES Program, Peter tested whether a dog’s mouth was cleaner than a human’s mouth in an attempt to disprove the urban legend that dogs’ mouths are cleaner.
Hayden Dahmm was a rising senior at Springfield High School while he attended TREES. During his time at TREES, Hayden studied the presence of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in a local waterway with the use of a yeast assay. He performed this experiment as a continuation of a similar project that he did this past school year. Hayden hopes to pursue a career in environmental engineering or environmental policy. He currently attends Swarthmore College (Class of 2015) and plans to major in environmental engineering and public policy.
Tommy Pan Fang
During his time at TREES, Tommy was a rising senior at St. Stephen’s School in Rome, Italy. In his free time, he enjoys talking to Oxfam representatives, eating genuine Italian food, and jaywalking. He has interests in environmental engineering and developing alternative fuels to power the world, and worked on bioremediation of glycerol for his TREES project. However, he believes that his greatest contribution to the environment will be raising the awareness of the community of “green” issues. Tommy currently attends the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania (Class of 2015) and plans to major in computer science or finance.
Joy was a rising junior at Council Rock High School South when she attended the TREES program. When not spending time in the lab, Joy can be found practicing and performing her violin, competing on her school’s debate and math team, and coaching her middle school MathCounts team. Her project this summer focuses on the filtration of synthetic estrogen using activated charcoal. In the future, Joy hopes to find a career that combines her interest in alternative energy development with her passion for scientifically and environmentally-minded public policy. Joy also returned to coordinate the TREES program in the summer of 2012. She is now attending Harvard University (Class of 2016) and plans to major in physics and/or environmental science and public policy.
Jeremy loves the outdoors, and is passionate about living a more sustainable life and wants to help his friends and school become “greener”. In addition to his environmental ambitions, he loves playing jazz drums as well as acting on stage. This summer his research focused on carbon sequestration. His project sequestered CO2 in lime water, and stored it in the form of calcium carbonate, which could then be used to make cement. The goal of this project is to lower CO2 emission from fossil fuel combustion, and then store the CO2 in a safe and practical manner. Hopefully, this concept can be applied to home heating systems to prevent residences from emitting excess CO2. Jeremy returned to coordinate the TREES program in the summer of 2011. He is now attending Brown University (Class of 2016) and plans to major in environmental engineering.
Rupali was a rising senior at Springside School in Philadelphia when she attended the TREES program. She says, “I decided to apply to the TREES summer program because I plan to pursue biochemical engineering in college. My project in TREES ‘Detection of Melamine and Cyanuric Acid by the DC Protein Assay’ is very much related to biochemistry and allowed me to learn and experience what my work in the future will be like. TREES has really strengthened my resolve to dedicate my career to science.” She currently attends the University of Pennsylvania (Class of 2015) and plans to major in bioengineering.
2009 TREES Scholars
Nigel was a rising senior at Malvern Preparatory School when he attended the TREES program. For his project, he worked with the crude glycerol which is a byproduct of making biodiesel from cooking oil. Also, he ran tests on biodiesel, such as energy comparison between biodiesel and ethanol. Some of his hobbies are soccer, squash, and track. Nigel currently attends Lehigh University and is interested in majoring in mechanical engineering and business.
Victor was a rising senior at The William Penn Charter School the summer he attended the TREES program. He says, “One could say that I am a nerd, but I like to call myself a Bio-Nerd. I have loved biology since I was a small child of 14 years when I did my first dissection of a frog, from there on I could consistently be found in the science departments of my school talking to the teachers and doing whatever I could to further my knowledge in science. From this one might think that all I care about is science, when in fact it is not. I am the Captain of Boys A Cappella, a member of the Crew Team, and a founding member of the Philosophy Club. So to sum up who I am as a person, I am a normal High School student with a strong affinity to science.” Victor currently attends Drexel University and plans to major in biology.
Ariel was a rising junior at Friends’ Central School when she was at the TREES program. At TREES, she was using BLYES yeast (specially-prepared yeast) to detect the presence of hormones in consumer products and in the environment. She currently attends Swarthmore College and plans to major in either biology or chemistry.
Ayana was a seventeen year old rising junior at the Baldwin School the summer she attended the TREES program. She states, “I am interested in finding a way to reduce the negative impact humans have on the environment. Each year, mostly resulting from our overwhelming need for energy, more and more CO2 along with other greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere with the burning of fossil fuels. This summer I am exploring one of the developing technologies that scientists, engineers, and various governmental systems are investigating as a means of eradicating this problem. One such technology is called Carbon sequestration, in which CO2 is removed directly from the flue gas that is produced when coal is burned. I am replicating that process in the lab, using a reagent called ethanolamine to remove CO2, produced by dry ice. Hopefully, this technology is a step in the right direction toward an environmentally friendly world.” She currently attends Haverford College.
Rochelle was a rising senior at Upper Darby High School when she attended the TREES program. The independent research that she was doing was water purification to remove phosphate from drinking water. Since she could not use arsenic, she was using phosphate to do her experiment. She currently attends Temple University and plans to major in biology and Korea.
Rebecca was a rising junior at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy when she attended the TREES program. Her project centered on UV light sensitivity of DNA repair mutant yeast. She currently attends the University of Pennsylvania.
2008 TREES Scholars
Camille was a rising junior at the Shipley School while at TREES. She enjoys riding her bike, art, swimming, dancing, and listening to music. Her project for the program had an epidemiologic focus on food allergies. Camille hopes to take up a career that will combine environmental science and art. She was also an Educational Partnership Program Scholar at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She currently attends Hampton University and plans to major in environmental science.
Elise was a rising senior at Haverford during her time at the TREES program. She enjoys hiking, a vegetarian lifestyle, and Starbucks coffee. At the TREES program, she worked on comparing new biodegradable plastics with current plastics. In 2009 she joined Drexel University to major in Environmental Engineering. In the future, she plans to study and think up brilliant solutions to save the world.
Hannah was a rising senior at Germantown Friends School when she attended the TREES program. She is interested in sustainable design, the world water crisis, and mouse dissections. Ultimately she plans to rule the world as a result of a series of victorious battles involving rock, paper, scissors, slap. At TREES, she investigated the effects of pasteurization on antibiotics and estrogens in hopes of convincing the entire human race to drink more milk. She will be drinking milk at Stanford, where she is a member of the class of 2013 majoring in computer science.
Kevin, who was a rising sophomore at J. R. Masterman High School when he attended the TREES program, is interested in many global environmental issues such as global warming. His multiple-award winning project at TREES was centered on UV radiation and sunscreen. Kevin hopes that he can help the environment by going green, and was an EPA intern. He currently attends the University of Pennsylvania and is pursuing a pre-med track.
Mollie “Tree Hugger” was a rising senior at the Baldwin School when she attended the TREES program. She enjoys large, chunky granola, long walks through majestic forests, and studying environmental endocrine disruptors. In the future, Mollie plans to pipette in the Adirondacks and eventually, join the peace corps. Until then, she will be studying environmental science and neuroscience at Oberlin College.
Nick liked to think he was the brains behind every operation going on at the TREES program. He likes to have fun and make everyone else laugh. He has a passion for Biofuel and the development of new and interesting ways to power the United Sates and the world, and he interned for the EPA. Even though he was young and naïve, Nick learned a lot during the program, scientific and otherwise. Nick was a rising junior at J. R. Masterman High School during his time at TREES and hoped to pursue his interests in Biofuel and Business someday. He currently attends Stanford University and intends to major in engineering, specifically with materials and energy.
Yueyi was a rising junior at Lower Merion High School during her time at the TREES program. She is very interested in ways that we, the community, can conserve resources. Her hobbies include the trumpet, tennis, and oil painting. Although she may not have much of an influence as an individual, she hopes that she can convince others to go green. She currently attends the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and is majoring in business and Japanese.
Zoë was a rising sophomore at Barrack Hebrew Academy during her time at TREES, and is interested in food allergies and intolerances. Her TREES project focused on Celiac Disease and the gluten proteins found in different food substances. She is also interested in saving the environment and “going green.” Currently, she attends the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and plans to major in biochemistry or bioengineering
2007 TREES Scholars
Alisha was a student at the Baldwin School when she attended the TREES program. She enjoys learning about the environment. Her experiment had to do with sun protection and skin cancer, where she irradiated cells with UV light to see if sunscreen could protect the cells from mutating. She states, “I have learned a lot about nature and Earth through this program. TREES is a lot of fun!!” Alisha received a science fair award for her work at TREES. She is now attending Columbia University and intends to do a pre-med track and major in computer science.
Andrea was a rising senior at the Baldwin School during her time at TREES. Her project centered on the role of dominance selection in the p53 mutagenic spectrum. She returned the following summer to TREES as a student mentor, and recently graduated from Princeton University in the class of 2012 with a major in chemical engineering and minor in biotechnology. With her work at TREES, she won the 2007 Montgomery County Science Fair and was selected to attend the Pennsylvania Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. She additionally published a scientific paper in April 2008
Anjalie was a rising freshman at the Baldwin School when she attended the TREES program.An avid archer, her aspiration in life is to visit Middle Earth. In TREES she studied food safety and developed tests to measure the protein content of cat food without interference from the contaminant melamine. She received numerous awards for her work at TREES and published her scientific paper. Currently, she attends Princeton University.
Arianne was a rising junior at the Baldwin School when she attended the TREES program. During the summer, she studied carbon dioxide capturing technologies which can mitigate global warming. Arianne now attends Swarthmore College and is pursuing a pre-med track.
Diane was a rising sophomore of the Baldwin School when she attended the TREES program. She says that “through the TREES program, I became more interested and aware of the environmental issues that our generation faces.” Her experiment was focused on the massive arsenic poisoning in India. She now attends the University of Chicago.
While in the TREES program, Maya was a rising senior at World Communications Charter School. She loves science a lot, and she states that “the TREES program made me like it so much better. In the future I know that I will be in the sciences/medical field helping people and saving lives.” For her project, she focused on biodiesel. She later attended Central Penn College and was interested in marketing and management.
Mazllum was a rising senior at G.W. Carver H.S.E.S. during his time at the TREES program. He chose to participate in the TREES program because of his interest in environmental science. He says “there are a lot of things that damage our environment and this program allowed me to help find some solutions.” Mazllum experimented with organic insecticide he found in marigolds, trying to see whether the organic insecticide worked and if it was better than man-made insecticides. He later attended Temple University and majored in biology.
Shaneka was a rising senior at the Multicultural Academy during her time at the TREES program. She wants to go into the science field so she can help people get a better life, stating that “science is a new galaxy and I want to explore it as much as possible.” She plans to be named in the future as “Dr. Shaneka D. Dixon.” Her project centered on the properties of biodegradable plastics. Shaneka later attended Penn State University and majored in psychology.