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Friday, October 31, 2014
Hewlett coup: 8 students gain Siemens acclaim
Three are named regional finalists
Hewlett-Woodmere Public Schools
Hewlett High’s own laboratory allowed the talents of Valery Zajkov, left, Shovon Hasan, center, and Benjamin T. Kramer, to flourish and earn semifinalist status.

Three Hewlett High School students were chosen as regional finalists and five were named semifinalists in the nationwide Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology.

Jeremy R. Appelbaum, William B. Gil and Allen Shin are the 2012 regional finalists. Shovon Hasan, Kathryn Hochberg, Benjamin T. Kramer, Daphne A. Superville and Valery Zajkov are the semifinalists. There were a total of 93 regional finalists and 322 semifinalists out of 2,255 participants.

All of the students’ research was conducted in the high school’s laboratory under the guidance of science teacher Dr. Terrence Bissoondial. “The work of everyone was conducted in the high school and developed by the students,” Dr. Bissoondial said, adding that this is unique as most other Long Island Siemens participants conduct their research at universities or research institutes.

During their three years of research, the students worked together either as a pair or in a group of three. The research focused on plant biology, crop development and the production of biofuel.

In their project, “COP1 Arrests Photomorphogenesis in Dark-Grown Gametophytes of Ceratoperis richardii; A Study of Constitutive Photomorphogenic Protein 1 in Cryptogams,” Appelbaum, Gil and Shin learned that the fern Ceratoperis richardii can 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 vital gene for a plant’s development in response to light in advanced plants and important for the development of less complex plants.

Hochberg and Superville, who also received the Stockholm Junior Water Prize and were finalists to the 2011-’12 ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair), found that DELLA genes could be helpful in regulating the hormone Gibberellic Acid (GA) which could speed up growth in switchgrass making it more accessible for ethanol production and use as an energy source. Their project is, “Unraveling the GA Signaling Pathway in Panicum Virgatum.”

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