Michael Hayes

Clockwise from top left: Devan Andreski '21, Ava Block '21, Megan Mokriski '21, Hamda Hussein '21.

Four students in Berkshire's Advanced Math/Science Research (AMSR) program have submitted their work to the Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS). 

Devan Andreski '21, Ava Block '21, Hamda Hussein '21, and Megan Mokriski '21 completed the application process last month, a culmination of intensive research on a subject of their choosing that includes a 20-page research paper, according to Dr. April Burch.

"I am so proud of all of them, and so grateful to work at a school that allows students to follow their dreams," said Dr. Burch, who directs the AMSR program and served as a mentor to three of the four science scholars.

Since 2010, 11 AMSR students have been named STS semifinalists, a distinction earned by only 300 students in the country each year. The Regeneron STS is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science competition for high school seniors.

Semifinalists for the competition will be announced on January 7, 2021. Forty finalists will be chosen on January 21.

Meet Berkshire's AMSR Scholars (video below)

By Dr. April Burch

Devan Andreski '21: Devan designed a study to investigate the effect of terpenes on the antioxidant state of thyroid cancer cells. She developed three separate approaches to show that the terpene Myrcene reduces oxidative stress in cancer cells in a pathway that seems to be independent of the known major anti-oxidant response mechanism. She was mentored on campus. 

Ava Block '21: Ava is a four-year AMSR student (four year winter AMSR participant and two-year AMSR member) and has always been fascinated with viruses. She has been working on completing a project I started 10 years ago when I had my own lab. Ava has designed a very elegant in vitro experiment to answer an age-old question of why HSV-1 viruses induces and needs oxidative stress during infection. She has preliminary evidence that indicates that the virus lures cellular anti-oxidant transcription factors to viral genes (bait & switch). She was mentored on campus. 

Hamda Hussein '21: Hamda is interested in vaccinology. She designed a synthetic peptide backbone that could be used to present any peptide epitope to immune cells using a lipid nanoparticle approach. The peptide she engineered and hopes to test next spring is one from the equine encephalitis virus (EEE). She was mentored on campus. 

Megan Mokrisk '21: Megan used a genetic analysis to investigate harmonic patterns in viral genomes. Using a second-site suppressor approach, she discovered that these regions in the genome are required for proper viral DNA condensation during virus assembly. Her genetic analysis has been validated by a biochemical study performed by a graduate student who also works on the project.  Her mentor was Dr. Fane from the University of Arizona.