Siemens Semifinalist at Northport High School

Siemens Semifinalist at Northport High School photo
Thanks to hard work, research, and a passion for science, junior Katie Sierra was named a semifinalist in the 2017 Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology. Every year, students from around the country submit research projects to compete on a regional and national level for college scholarships. There were 491 semifinalists nationwide, and Sierra was one of the 56 students selected from Long Island. 

The project Sierra submitted sprang from her work in the ecology and evolution department at Stony Brook University this past summer—that program in particular standing out to her because of the ecology related topics she’s studied in school. Her lab research was part of a published study that she completed with research partner Brian Torres from Brentwood High School. 

The project’s aim was to examine the effect of plastic surfactants, the chemicals that coat most plastics, on marine environments and the creatures that inhabit them—specifically the Blue and Ribbed Mussels. Overall, their findings showed that plastic toxins negatively affected the filtration systems and capture efficiency of both types of mussels, which can upset entire ecosystems.

“It was amazing to be honored in such a prestigious competition,” said Sierra. “I put so much work into this submission, and it was incredible to see my summer at Stony Brook pay off.”