NEW YORK: Two high-school students working with researchers at Fordham University’s Louis Calder Biological Field Station are finalists in the Intel National Science Talent Search. High-school senior Jeff Licitra of Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook, N.Y., is being recognized for his work on spatial and biodiversity patterns in ectomycorrhizal fungal communities. Senior Matthew Kroll of Byram Hills High School in Armonk, N.Y., has received accolades for his research about the importance of body size as a factor in the development of the deer tick. The 40 finalists will travel to Washington, D.C., in March to compete for the grand prize, a $100,000 scholarship. The Intel Science Talent Search, formerly known as the Westinghouse, is the country’s oldest and most prestigious competition for high school-researchers. Each finalist is guaranteed a $5,000 scholarship.
Under the tutelage of Fordham Assistant Professor Jim Lewis, Ph.D., Licitra discovered that ectomycorrhizal fungi colonize at a significantly lower rate on oak roots in hemlock-dominated forests. His research is important for forest management because hemlock forests are declining as a result of attacks by the hemlock woolly adelgid. Kroll, who was supervised by Associate Research Scientists Tom Daniels, Ph.D., and Richard Falco, Ph.D., found that large female ticks produce more eggs, but smaller females allocate more resources per egg.
This discovery could shed light on tick survival and host-finding success, which will effect future tick populations and the spread of Lyme disease. The Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station is a 113-acre field station in Armonk, N.Y., which is used to train biologists for work in environmental science and conservation. The Center has a 10-acre lake for aquatic studies, a modern laboratory for biological and chemical analyses, and forest, field and wetland habitats for teaching and conducting research in ecology and conservation.