Huntington Foundation Funds Cell Culture Lab
A new small cell culture lab is being installed at the rear of Huntington High School's science research classroom. It will provide students with an opportunity to perform a variety of experiments.
The Huntington Foundation awarded a Star grant worth $12,925.83 to fund the cost of the cell culture lab. Holly Flores, a member of Huntington's Class of 2012, authored the grant, which was submitted by science research teacher Lori Kenny. Ms. Flores is now a Stony Brook University freshman, but her efforts at Huntington will be felt for many years to come.
Mrs. Kenny and senior Will Hannon, one of three Huntington High School science research interns this year are setting up the lab with assistance from the Cold Spring Harbor Lab. Mrs. Kenny said that Mr. Hannon is "spearheading" the project at this point.
Ms. Flores said her goal in writing the grant was to expand the research program. Before she said goodbye to Huntington, she also created a website for the research program, which also received several smaller Huntington Foundation grants in previous years.
Ms. Flores believes that by creating a cell culture lab within the confines of Huntington High School, students can engage in complex research projects that will generate more interest in science, lead to awards in competitions and open the door for outside funding opportunities.
"There is essentially no end to the benefits of this project, however it will take time and effort to maintain," Ms. Flores wrote in the Star grant application. "Having cells requires sterile conditions, weekly maintenance, training in handling the cells and a proper waste disposal system in accordance with OSHA regulations."
Ms. Flores said she "envisions" Huntington students "growing cells and taking weekly images with the microscope. This may not sound like much, but it will provide them with an experience that most do not get until grad school and a strong experience in cell culture that most colleges and professional laboratories are looking for."
The new cell culture lab is widely seen as a boon for the research program. "This grant will enhance the instructional program of science research by providing an incentive to kids to pursue and join the research program," according to the grant application. "Existing members of the science research program will look forward to this unbelievable opportunity and it will certainly draw in new members."
The lab will allow students to experience "a taste of research without the heavy fees of outside research camps whose tuition generally starts at $5,000," according to Ms. Flores. "It is a perfect way to teach the scientific method and get students who have never been interested in the research program, interested."
Ms. Flores said there are many Long Island high schools that "put a huge focus on research" and they "all have intense programs and some even have fully stocked labs that can support much more than only cell culture." But, she feels her alma mater is in a class all of its own.
"What makes Huntington unique is our attitude towards science research," Ms. Flores said. "At most of these [other] schools there is an intense pressure to just win competitions, and in fact, at some schools their grade is dependent on it. At Huntington High School we promote a general interest in science without the pressure at competitions and as a result, we have students who win based on their genuine interest in science showing through in their projects and presentations. The students at Huntington High School learn to love science for the rest of their lives and this grant will only make that all the more possible."