This isn’t your typical science fair. If you’re expecting baking soda volcano eruptions or tornados in bottles, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Instead, we expect you’ll be blown away by what you see: presentations ranging from brain wave analysis to how to better treat heart-failure patients with iron deficiency.

2023 marked the 27th year for the Annual Holy Names Science Research Symposium. The showcase, led by teacher Andrew Licari, provides students the opportunity to present the results of a three-year program in which they choose the area to focus their research.

For Junior Carolyn Stum, that focus is treating spinal cord injuries.

Carolyn has been working closely with scientists at a research institute in Rensselaer studying the effect of a drug that acts as a selective inhibitor of nuclear export on recovery after spinal cord injury in rats.

In layman’s terms: the drug will help these rats recover better from spinal cord injuries. The goal of her research, which she will continue over the summer, will be to test the effectiveness of the inhibitor.

Carolyn says after researching spinal cord injuries and treatments in class, she was in search of a mentor. With the help of Mr. Licari, she found three in Rensselaer and says getting hands-on experience under the tutelage of Dr. Caitlin Hill, Dr. Sol Torruella, and Dr. Shrstha Sinha has been amazing.

“I love the environment and the people and have learned a lot.  I have been able to take part in research at an advanced level,” Carolyn says. “I have participated in western blotting to see the levels of biomarkers in blood samples. I was involved in collecting and analyzing behavioral data.  I have been able to observe surgery on the rats to give them the spinal cord injury.”

Carolyn, who was awarded the Bausch + Lomb Honorary Science Award from the University of Rochester for high achievement and rigor in science, says her experience in the Holy Names science research program has inspired her for life after AHN.

\“It helped me to realize I want to major in biochemistry or molecular biology,” Carolyn says. “And also, that I want to go into research science for work. The research I am conducting will prepare me for lab work in college and in my career.”\