Rebecca Marcus ’18 and Marina Tosi ‘18 have joined the short list of Mamaroneck High School students who have been honored as Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholars (formerly known as semifinalists). The Regeneron Science Talent Search is the nation’s oldest science and math research competition for high school students. It is incredibly prestigious. With over 1800 annual applicants, there is an extensive application process, including recommendations from OSR teacher, Mr. Garbarino, letters from mentors, standardized test scores, essays about their research, plans after college and more. Marcus and Tosi are two of the three hundred students across the country who have been named as Scholars, and they receive a 2,000 dollar award, along with an additional 2,000 dollars going to their high schools.
Marcus’s experience in OSR has been unique. Encouraged by her earth science teacher to join, she “found [herself] drawn to the articles [she was] reading about animal science and the environment.” Marcus stated, “With Mr. Garbarino’s encouragement, I studied environmental science at Teatown Lake Reservation the summer after ninth grade. Then, the summer after tenth grade, I completed this project with a mentor at Columbia University. This past summer, I went back to Teatown to continue my environmental research, and I am currently working on completing that project.” She will be graduating with three completed projects, which is highly unique for OSR students. She was also the first student from MHS to attend the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair as a sophomore. The project that she applied for this award with was “Immune Costs of Breeding in Superb Starlings”. In the project, Marcus studied reproductive stress in birds known as Superb Starlings, where some organisms reproduce and parent offspring, while others assist with it. She studied immune function as signals of stress in mothers, fathers and the assisters. Mothers showed an increase in characteristics signalling stress, while fathers showed no significant change in immunological stress. From her research Marcus was able to find a direct link between the amount of offspring care and physiological stress, which informs reproductive decisions.
Tosi always saw herself joining OSR. “It was a no-brainer for me,” says the senior. She originally wanted to study eating disorders and how they presented in sports. She became inspired to do this research after witnessing figure skating coaches weighing their students, and as a result watching her peers begin to develop unhealthy eating habits and borderline eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa. “When I met my mentor,” recalls Tosi, “I told them about eating disorders in sports and she told me about the Female Athlete Triad.” The Female Athlete Triad is a disorder commonly found in young women participating in sports that stress leanness, and is the main subject of Tosi’s research. The disorder is defined as taking in fewer calories than exerting, skipping or having frequent periods, and a deposition for stress fractures. Tosi’s research is focused on comparing knowledge of this triad, along with a novel risk assessment, among three different types of athletes: figure skaters, dancers and runners. It was found that dancers were the at the highest risk for the triad along with being the least likely to have a lot of knowledge about it. Overall, her research has shown how little awareness of this disorder there is among the people who have the highest risk of it. This makes the need to raise awareness for this disorder all the more pressing.
Congratulations to both Rebecca Marcus and Marina Tosi for their outstanding accomplishments in OSR and good luck with their future work.
By Effiana Svarre