Upper School Teacher Attends "Summer Camp for Scientists" at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Upper School Teacher Attends "Summer Camp for Scientists" at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Sonia Chin describes her course, Frontiers and Techniques in Plant Science, which took place at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as "summer camp for scientists." A PhD-trained scientist with expertise in animal biology, Sonia saw this course as a chance to revisit and explore plant biology with internationally renowned experts.

This reimmersion into the world of research science was intellectually exciting. It also widened Sonia's circle of colleagues, which, by extension, will bring new expertise into our classrooms. For example, as our Bio II Advanced class approaches the study of plant epigenetics, Sonia is meeting with Doris Wagner, a Penn scientist who is a pioneer in this field. She credits her program with connecting her to Dr. Wagner and looks forward to bringing some of Dr. Wagner's wisdom, and maybe even a grad student or postdoc, to FCS.

Bio I Advanced students can look forward to participating in a genetic study of white clover. Who knew that some white clover populations produce minute amounts of cyanide? Sonia will ask her students questions like, "What do you expect to see and why?", "Where would you expect to find cyanide in white clover?", "What does this say about adaptation and evolution?" (spoiler alert - it's a clover's defense against insects!). Sonia's students will then perform a series of chemical tests to see whether our local white clover contains cyanide-producing populations. Their data will be submitted into a database at Washington University in St. Louis, giving students the opportunity to understand and analyze their data in a national context, and also the chance to make a real contribution to the field of plant biology.

This summer experience afforded Sonia the chance to learn new skills and to stay current on molecular biology techniques and topics. As the only high school teacher enrolled in the program, she also had the unexpected opportunity to introduce graduate students to the possibility of a career in independent schools, something most had not previously considered. Sonia is grateful to Friends' Central for awarding her this opportunity, funded by the Fanny Cox Fund for Science and Math, to spend part of her summer with fellow scientists, immersed in a world she loves and where she continues to learn.

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