Adina Kirkland is working hard. Now in her third year in Huntington High School’s science research program, the junior is thriving.
Ms. Kirkland has acquired and sharpened a variety research skills over the past two years. Her experiences have positioned the teenager well for the pursuit of advanced studies and her involved in the science research program deepens.
The junior participated in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Being Human program last summer. Ms. Kirkland focused on the human species and its evolutionary traits.
“We talked about certain traits that led to what we looked like today, studied bone structure of ancient peoples and tested each other for odorant receptors using diluted pheromones,” said Ms. Kirkland about her time at the famed Cold Spring Harbor Lab.
Participants in the summer program delved into physical anthropology. “Students connect the prehistoric world with modern biology through anthropological labs that get them up close and personal with our ancient ancestors,” according to program organizers.
While the program ran for just a week, Ms. Kirkland made the most of it. The teenager was also able to study biochemical fossil evidence as evidence to human evolution. “Working with professionals who do this for a living was cool because they gave us background on the topic and then shared valuable information while teaching us,” she said.
Huntington High School
junior Adina Kirkland.
The summer program has inspired Ms. Kirkland to work with pheromones during the current school year, studying their effect on C. elegans, a “non-hazardous, non-infectious, non-pathogenic, non-parasitic organism,” according to the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences. “It is small, growing to about 1 mm in length and lives in the soil—especially rotting vegetation—in many parts of the world, where it survives by feeding on microbes such as bacteria.”
The junior plans to work with Cold Spring Harbor Lab geneticist Dr. Bruce Nash. “I met him when I did my research program last summer, Ms. Kirkland said. “I cannot wait to begin work on my project this year.”
One gets the sense that Ms. Kirkland is just getting rolling. The teenager’s drive and determination shouldn’t be underestimated. She has displayed a willingness to devote countless hours in pursuit of her goals and doesn’t hesitate to surrender vacation periods to grow intellectually.
(This story was written by junior Nolan Piccola, a science research program intern. It was edited by sophomore Katherine DeGennaro, who is interning in the district’s Office of Public Information.)