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Harrison Seniors Celebrated at Science Symposium

HARRISON, N.Y. -- This week marked a time for celebration for Harrison High School seniors Roi Ankawa and Melissa Goldberg, who received second and fourth place honors respectively in the Westchester-Rockland Junior Science Humanities Symposium.

Their success at the 11th annual event, held at John Jay High School, showcased the research of local students and qualified them for the next round of regional competition in Albany on March 19 and 20.

Ankawa's research was titled "The Genetics and Molecular Basis of Learning" and received second place in the Medicine and Health category, according to a statement from the school district. Her mentor, Dr. Jana Veliskova of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at New York Medical College, helped Ankawa in studying how the protein realigns and estrogen interacts in areas of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

Goldberg’s work was presented under the title of  “Virtual Reality Based Mitigation of Pain in Pediatric Populations: A Meta-Analysis” and earned fourth place in the Behavior II category.

Ankawa and Goldberg work as part of the Harrison Science Research Program, a four-year program that helps local students become independent science researchers, according to the statement. The course also helps students work on original research with professional scientists within their areas of interest.

According to the statement, Goldberg said she was surprised that so little research was available on pediatric patients. She and her mentors, Dr. Christopher Tyler and senior research statistician Katarzyna Wyka, studied "different approaches to mitigating pain using either passive or virtual reality distracting techniques in a pediatric setting."

The symposium drew roughly 285 students from both Westchester and Rockland County Public and Private Schools, according to the district. The annual competition is funded through The U.S. Department of Defense and winners proceed from local competitions to regional rounds.

If successful on these two levels, students will continue to the national competition on May 9 and 10.

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