Hewlett HS Seniors Win 2012 Siemens Contest


Three seniors have won the grand prize of $100,000 for research of a plant protein that could be used to fight cancer.

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On Tuesday, three seniors from George W. Hewlett High School took home a $100,000 check for winning the grand prize for the 2012 Siemens Competition for Math, Science, and Technology.

Jeremy Appelbaum, William Gil, and Allen Shin had been working on the research project for three years, and will split the $100,000.  They studied under their school science research teacher, Terrence Bissoondial, who directed the 17 year olds in their research of a plant protein that has the potential to be used in fighting cancer

The Hewlett students titled their project “COP1 Arrests Photomorphogenesis in Dark Grown Gametophytes of Ceratopteris richardii: A Study of COP1 in Cryptogams.”  The research was carried out in the high school’s new lab which is equipped with gel electrophoresis apparatuses to separate strands of DNA.  The lab also includes a polymerase chain reaction machine, which is used to amplify DNA and generate copies of a DNA sequence.  

The win did not come easy to the Hewlett trio, as their research posters were destroyed in Superstorm Sandy before the students were able to present them.  Appelbaum had been storing the posters in the basement of his Woodmere home, and they were ruined by floodwaters.  Appelbaum had to evacuate and stay with friends until the water was pumped from his home.

Not to let the storm take away their three years of research and aspirations of winning the Siemens competition, Appelbaum, Gil, and Shin put together new, smaller posters by working long hours and even using the high school on the weekends.  Though the seniors did not have the posters they originally wanted to use, their research still wowed the judges at the competition and earned them the grand prize.

The seniors all aspire to careers in the field of science and medicine.  Appelbaum wants to become a physician, Gil aspires to become a biomedical researcher, and Shin hopes to become a doctor.  With their prize-money, they now have a leg-up on paying for college.

Long Island students have long partaken in the Siemens Competition, earning positions as semi-finalists and finalists nearly every year.  This makes for the fourth grand prize win for students from Long Island in the past eleven years.


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