April 23, 2012
Talented science students from 14 New York City-area high
schools have gained an inside look at how to pursue a research
career through a new, competitive St. John’s University program
featuring on-campus tours and lectures by four distinguished
Science Honors Program for High School Students, “St. John’s
has done something special for young people who have a passion
for research,” said
Ivana Vancurova, Ph.D., Professor of
Biological Sciences. “We’re inspiring them to follow their
Dr. Vancurova created the program, which was offered for the
first time this semester. She and Cecelia Russo, Director of
Pre-Admission Programs at St. John’s, distributed applications to
high schools throughout the five boroughs and Long Island. More
than 200 students responded, and 150 were selected based on
Participants came to the Queens, NY,
campus for once-a-month lectures by four of the University’s
leading science professors. Through the presentations, held from
January through April, faculty members discussed their
specializations and shared their experiences as researchers.
Students also toured laboratories in St. Albert Hall.
“We receive so many requests from local high school students who
want to conduct advanced research with our faculty,” said Dr.
Vancurova. “Since we are unable to accommodate them due to limited
space in our facilities, this is another way to help young people
who are interested in science careers.”
“This program has meant a great deal to our science students,”
said Renee Barcia, a teacher and Science Research Coordinator at
Herricks High School, in New Hyde Park, NY. “Our ninth- and
10th-grade science students were exposed to information that’s
not usually available to them.”
“It was a great opportunity,” said Thushara Thomas, a
14-year-old ninth-grader at Herricks High School. “It’ll look great
on my transcript, and I really look forward to the lectures.”
Dustin Liu, Thushara’s classmate, added, “The talks gave us a
chance to learn about research from experts.”
Students attended these lectures: “Introduction to Biochemistry
and Cancer Research,” by
Ales Vancura, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Biological Sciences;
“Introduction to Immunology and Inflammation Research,” by Dr.
Vancurova; and “Introduction to Cell Biology and Neurodegenerative
Disease Research,” by
Simon Moller, Ph.D., Biological Sciences.
Enju Wang, Ph.D., Chemistry, delivered the final lecture —
“Introduction to Chemical Analysis and Chemical Sensors” — on April
In addition to Herricks, other participating schools were the
Academy of American Studies, Excelsior Preparatory Academy, St.
Francis Preparatory School, Richmond Hill High School, and
Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical High School, Queens; Bronx
High School of Science, Bronx; Cathedral High School, Manhattan;
Jericho High School, Jericho; Miller Place High School, Miller
Place; Sewanhaka High School, Floral Park; Smithtown High School,
St. James and Smithtown; St. Edmund Preparatory High School and
Xaverian High School, Brooklyn.