Hewlett High School team wins Siemens contest

Three seniors capture grand prize for research on plant protein


Hewlett High School seniors Jeremy Appelbaum, William Gil and Allen Shin will share the $100,000 grand prize in the team category of the 2012 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology for their research in COP1, a key protein in plants and animals.

The students, who were mentored by Dr. Terence Bissoondial, a Hewlett High biological research teacher, conducted all of their research in the school’s laboratory.

“Their research represents the product when faculty, administration, students, parents and community are working well together,” Bissoondial said. “I could not be more proud of the results.”

The winning project was titled “COP1 Arrests Photo Morphogenesis in Dark Grown Gametophytes of Ceratopteris richardii; a Study of COP1 in Cryptograms.” The students made a video presentation at the national finals in Washington, D.C., on Monday. They beat five other teams to win the prestigious award.

“We were impressed by the enthusiasm of the students and by the fact that they carried out their research entirely with the resources available at their high school laboratory,” said competition judge Dr. Hanjo Hellman, an assistant professor at Washington State University.

Appelbaum, Gil and Shin learned that the fern Ceratopteris richardii could be used to study many of the complex processes in higher plants without being hampered by the complexity of the tissue being studied. COP1 is a gene that is vital to a plant’s development.

In addition to their scientific work, the students are involved in several other school activities. Appelbaum works on the school newspaper, plays varsity volleyball and is a student tutor. He is planning to major in biology or chemistry in college, and hopes to be a doctor.

President of the leadership group We are Future Leaders, Gil is a varsity fencer and volunteers at the American Cancer Society. His career goal is to become a biomedical researcher.

Shin, who is also a varsity volleyball player, takes part in an annual mission trip to help residents in impoverished communities. He would also like to become a physician.