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First Regeneron Finalist Named in Copiague

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Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School senior Kemmora Simmons has been named a semifinalist in the 2024 Regeneron Science Talent Search. The Society for Science announced the top 300 students in the Regeneron Talent Search. Each scholar and their school will be awarded $2,000. On Jan. 24, 40 students will be selected as finalists, which includes a trip to Washington, D.C., and $1.8 million in prizes.

In addition, Simmons is the Class of 2024 valedictorian and the first student in Copiague School District history to be selected as a semifinalist. Simmons has been involved in the competitive science research program since seventh grade.

Her comprehensive research study served to evaluate the “Effect of the Endocrine-Disrupting Chemical Soy on the Psychological Stress Levels of Neonatal Drosophila Melanogaster.” Simmons describes EDCs as “dangerous substances” found in many everyday products such as fragrances, pesticides, plastics, children’s toys, and food products. Simmons became fascinated with the topic upon discovering the devastation these chemicals can cause to the human body, including hormonal imbalances, obesity, reproductive issues, diabetes and cancers. After reading an article given to her by her sibling, she was shocked to find very few of these chemicals were banned in the United States.

Drawn to psychiatric medicine, Kemmora cites that her final motivation to conduct this novel research was realized upon discovering EDCs not only affected the body, but also the mind. By employing an experimental method in the Copiague science chemistry lab, she exposed fruit flies (a comparative model for human genetics) to soy (an EDC) prenatally and observed how this early exposure affected the organisms’ stress over the course of their development. Using a larval locomotion assay, the stress of the larvae was analyzed based on the concept that a decrease in larvae activity signifies that the organisms are stressed.

Excitedly, her findings were significant; the stress levels of the fruit fly larvae were affected by exposure to high concentrations of soy. These results not only add to the long list of health risks associated with these substances but display how EDCs may possibly impact humans, particularly by inflicting psychological stress at an early age. As a result, Simmons’ research shows that children are vulnerable to the dangerous implications of endocrine disruptors.

Date Added: 1/16/2024