The unique research program at BCA, open to students from all academies, gives our aspiring students the opportunity to develop a research project based on their personal interests. Students at other high schools may have the opportunity to do research internships at cooperating professional labs, only students at our school have access to the latest scientific equipment to pursue their research interests internally, adjusted to their individual schedules.
Laboratory of Cell Biology
The students carrying out research in the Laboratory of Cell Biology are engaged in some unique endeavors using the state-of-the-art equipment found on our campus. Students in the Cell Biology Lab originate and investigate their own scientific questions that often focus on elucidating the biochemical and molecular underpinnings of various disease states using in vitro methods. In addition, students may also pose environmental questions, as well as questions related to developmental biology. Students have been received recognition from nearly every prestigious high school competition. The Cell Bio Lab is also home to the BCA chapter of the Future Health Care Professionals (HOSA) and most admirably, because of their passion for STEM and their desire to give back. These students facilitate the Bergen SciChallenge Middle School Science Fair affiliated with the Broadcom Masters and the Society for Science and the Public.
Michael Gomez (AAST 2021) was named one of 40 Regeneron Science Talent Search Finalists. He was acknowledged today for his STEM research on repurposing an anti-inflammatory drug in the treatment of pigmentation disorders.
"No matter how many hours you spend reading a textbook, nothing can compare to the hands-on aspect of Research at the Academies. In the real academic world, you will not be assessed on how well you can memorize the cell cycle. Rather, you will be assessed on your ability to use tools and techniques to study the cell cycle. Through being able to learn theory and use hands-on methods, I was able to refine my interest in the sciences. I learned that I love textbook biology but I love the wet lab even more.
Research at the Academies not only made me a better student, but it also made me a better person. I had an outlet for my curiosity and a place where I got to explore my interests. Being a high schooler, there is not a strict expectation to being perfect but rather, there is room for making mistakes. More importantly, I had the opportunity to learn from my mistakes in a nurturing and healthy environment. This skill is translatable to so many aspects of my life.
While the Research program allows room for learning opportunities, research is not easy. Many hours are spent reading papers or trying to understand protocols. A lot of energy and focus is required for analyzing data, putting it in a presentable format, and preparing it for a paper or presentation. The experience of spending your frees in the lab and spending your nights writing up your results makes you a more diligent and disciplined student. You learn the art of dedication, and that is such a valuable tool.
Overall, research at the Academies has helped me find purpose in my high school experience, and it has helped define my focus for my future adventures."
Student researchers conduct hands-on lab experiments to synthesize, manipulate, analyze and visualize interesting nanoscale structures with the help of the state of the art equipment for interdisciplinary nanotechnology applications. Nanomaterials research projects may incorporate the utilization of Atomic force microscopy (AFM), Optical tensiometer, Rheometer, Optical Profiler, 4-point probes, Dynamic light scattering particle size analyzer/zeta potential analyzer, oxygen and water-free environment Glove Box, Fluorescent spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectrophotometry (FTIR), Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy and/or UV/Vis-NIR spectrophotometry.
Students submit grant proposals for external funding, i.e. Young Science Achievers Program and compete in various science competitions such as Regeneron Science Talent Search, Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and New Jersey Academy of Science Junior Fair.
Cancer Research Laboratory
This laboratory is extremely well equipped. An array of state-of-the-art instrumentation is available to students who complete the prerequisite course "Research in Cell Biology". Students are encouraged to develop research projects based on their own interests and to develop the habit of picking important scientific questions to answer. Our research education program has been improved by the access to and collaboration with the surgical lab at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center (EHMC), a prestigious teaching hospital affiliated with the Mount Sinai Medical College in NYC. Selected students who participate in the surgical training course learn live animal surgical techniques, and many have begun to use animals in their research, expanding the range of scientific questions that can be addressed. Our access to this and other prestigious medical centers in the NY-NJ area, encompassing doctors and scientists with a large and varied repertoire of cutting-edge medical and educational techniques allows us to offer something of value to our colleagues and collaborators around the world. The main goal of the Cancer Biology Lab is to teach students to think deeply about science and understand how to apply the scientific method in a high-level manner. A critical question we attempt to answer in the Cancer Biology Lab is "What can I do if I develop an idea or make a discovery that has the potential to become a product?"" Students in this program have created a virtual biotech/pharmaceutical company and they get to interact with professional scientists, engineers, and government officials. This has given our students access to instrumentation and collaborations that have resulted in patent applications and the creation of new businesses.
This area of research utilizes the newly renovated environmental science center and greenhouse. Students from all Academies conduct research on the multifaceted discipline of agricultural science. Plants, animals, environmental resources, power and transportation, food science, and sustainability are areas for research within this broad discipline. Newly installed Coral Reef tanks allow for the additional area of marine science research.
All agriscience researchers become members of the student organization BCA Future Farmers of America and participate in competitive science fairs and national and international symposia at the culmination of their projects. In the short five years since its inception, BCA FFA students have won awards at both the NJ State and National FFA Agriscience Fair, the YSAP science fair, the Jersey Shore Junior Science Symposium, and our own BCA Research Expo (ISEF-affiliated).
Nano-Structural Imaging Lab
The mission of NSIL Biological Research is to introduce students to scientific inquiry, through research and instrumentation, and to provide transferable, hands-on experiences with the techniques, practices and perspectives of professional scientists; with an emphasis on microscopy as an analytical technique, especially electron microscopy. Students are eligible to participate in this program after completing one of the pre-requisite courses. Next, the student will develop a novel research project based on their own interests and current scientific literature, in cell biology, molecular biology, structural biology, biomedical research, or related fields. They will then learn the tools and techniques to carry out experiments on a topic of their choosing, acquire and analyze data, and present their results in written and oral form. Students have participated in the BCA Research Expo, Young Science Achievers Program, and Regeneron Science Talent Search, as well as publishing their findings in professional journals. Additionally, these students are well suited for careers in bio-imaging, histology, pathology, and other clinical research options.
This year, one of our students was one of 50 students selected nationally to attend the Math Olympiad Summer Program (MOSP/MOP) in contention to represent the United States at the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). This year, ten students wrote research papers for the BCA Research Expo, competing for a chance to participate in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). One of our students won top 3 in the computational sciences category, as well as the BCA Statistics Research Award. Our students also compete in Regeneron, the most prestigious high school science research competition. One student was also one of six students selected nationally by MIT to participate in the MIT PRIMES-USA research program, the most prestigious math research program in the nation.
Some of the projects completed in our Optics Lab include:
- Measurement of thermal expansion coefficient using Laser interferometry
- Writing a LabView program to analyze the FFT output of the optogalvanic spectroscopy signal in a CO2 enriched cell
- Simulation of Quantum Tunneling of Water in Beryl Crystal using Octave
- Set-up of the experimental system aimed at observing the double-slit effect and quantum entanglement with single photons
- Measurement of small-scale vibrations using Michelson interferometry
- Generating the standard operation procedures for Glucose sensing via mid-IR Spectroscopy
Submissions and competition entries include: AAPT Summer Conference, YSAP, Exploravision, AAPT Photo Contest and BCA Expo. A few students received the YSAP grant of $500 each.