SMART Team Preps for May Symposium

smart team picBy Beyhan Taylan ‘15

SMART teams from high schools all over New York will present their research posters in Rockefeller University in May. The SMART team, aided by Ms. Jessica Ross, has started to write up abstracts and construct a 3D model of the protein they are working on, Streptococcal M Protein.

The SMART team stands for Students Modeling A Research Topic. They create 3D models of proteins using a program called Jmol. The SMART team meets every Monday during period nine in the room A214.

Ms.Ross, an AP biology teacher and research teacher, started the SMART team three years ago.  After attending the Milwaukee School of Engineering class for modeling molecules, Ms.Ross found it a good way to make difficult concepts comprehensible for students.

“I started to institute it in my research class,” said Ms.Ross. “My research class loved it and wanted to continue, so we started the SMART team.”

The SMART team creates modules of proteins using Jmol, which is an open source computer program that takes 3D modules that can be modified by the SMART team.

“Jmol allows us to create a module of the protein and highlight the important parts of the protein,” said Carmine See ‘15. “It helps show the structure of the protein and its binding sites and active sites of the protein.”

Every year, the SMART team works with a mentor

and creates a 3D module of the protein the mentor is studying as well as creates a research poster. This year the SMART team is working with Dr. Whitney MacDonald on the Streptococcal M Protein, a protein responsible for the virulence of Streptococcus pyogenes, which causes strep throat.

Members of the SMART team find it beneficial to create these models of the protein and learn about their functions.

“It is useful if you are planning to go into that field, or if you are interested in biology or any other related subject,” said Grace Win ‘15. “Another reason why it’s beneficial is because we create abstracts, and reports, which helps if you are struggling with creating abstracts.”

Any student can join the SMART team. Carmine See ‘15 said that no one really needs to be scientific in order to join the SMART team.

“The SMART team has so many different things that we do,” said Ms.Ross.“There is an opportunity for any student to be able to be part of it and be successful.”

In May, the SMART team will enter a symposium in Rockefeller University and present their research poster with their 3D model of the protein they were working on. They will also get to look at other research posters done by other SMART teams.

“SMART team is a lot of fun, and you’ll learn a lot,” said Ms.Ross. “You present your research poster. Everyone wins in the SMART team.”

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