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4 STREAM seniors travel to Argonne Labs to conduct experiment using Advanced Photon Source

4 STREAM seniors travel to Argonne Labs to conduct experiment using Advanced Photon Source

Over the summer, Dr. Megan Leider, STREAM Coordinator and teacher, applied Resurrection College Prep for Argonne National Laboratory's Exemplary Student Research Program (ESRP). 

The ESRP program allows high school students and their teachers to work in teams with Argonne scientists to conduct research projects from start to finish while using the world-class facilities at the Advanced Photon Source (APS). Only a handful of programs in the world allow high school students to conduct synchrotron science, making the ESRP a unique and life-changing experience for students and teachers alike.

According to Argonne, the program lasts an entire school year beginning in summer, when teachers apply to form a research team at their school. After attending an introductory workshop, teachers are matched with a scientist mentor and charged with selecting their students. During the fall and spring, teams prepare a research proposal; design and set up an experiment; gather and analyze data; make conclusions; and create a final poster. In this program, school teams are considered to be part of the larger Argonne international synchrotron light source user community: ESRP posters are presented alongside the rest of the user community’s work at the annual Argonne APS/CNM User Meeting in the spring. 

All teams are required to come to Argonne twice during the school year, once to collect their data at the APS and once to present their work at the User Meeting, with additional opportunities to engage with mentors or to visit Argonne depending on the project.

In participating in the program, teams will:

  • Develop an official General User Proposal of their project, which will be reviewed by a team of scientists
  • Undergo registration and training to become Users of the Advanced Photon Source
  • Interact with Argonne scientists at all stages of their research project, which may include lab visits, correspondence, meetings in person or by teleconference
  • Collect data at the Advanced Photon Source
  • Prepare a professional poster of their project and present their results to the research community

Resurrection College Prep was one of 20 schools chosen to participate in the Exemplary Student Research Program. The team of students includes seniors Maggie Defend, Ava Bellwoar, Catherine Lacala, and Mila Munson.

Our RES students, along with their mentor, Dr. Olga Antipova, designed an experiment to determine how arsenic travels through the roots of commonly used vegetables. On February 16th, the four traveled to Argonne National Laboratory to conduct their experiment and collect data using the Advanced Photon Source (ASP). 

They are currently in the process of analyzing their results and will present their findings at Argonne on Wednesday, April 19th. Stay tuned! Their results may surprise you!

Below is a summary of the experiment the students wrote at part of their application: 

Proposal Abstract 

Chronic ingestion of arsenic (As) with drinking water and food causes arsenicosis, a morbid systemic syndrome characterized by skin lesions, cancers, systemic pathologies, and high mortality. It is estimated that more than 100 million people worldwide are affected by the elevated levels of arsenic in drinking water. Plants readily accumulate arsenic from contaminated soils and irrigation water. This presents a significant channel of arsenic exposure to the population, especially in arsenicosis-affected areas where irrigated crops are the main staple of the diet. In addition, elevated arsenic in the environment is shown to reduce yields due to its toxicity to the plants. Breeding of resistant crop varieties with low accumulation of arsenic in edible parts requires understanding of complex molecular interactions in plant arsenic metabolism. Auxin signaling was shown to be implicated in stress responses of plants to toxic metals. In this work, we employ X-ray fluorescence microprobe imaging of plant tissues to elucidate effects of mutations in the PIN-family of auxin membrane transporters on arsenic uptake, accumulation and sequestration in model plants. The obtained results will assist in screening and selection of target genes in crop plants with lower accumulation of arsenic.  

Read more about the 2022-23 STREAM III research projects here.