Pingry S.M.A.R.T. Team Presents Research Poster At International Conference

MARTINSVILLE—The Pingry School’s 2009-10 S.M.A.R.T. (Students Modeling a Research Topic) Team traveled to Anaheim, California in April 2010 to present their research poster at the Annual Meeting of The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). The topic of the poster was “Physical Models of Enzymes Engineered for Biofuel Cells.”

Each year, Pingry contacts a local scientist to communicate with students about a protein or enzyme that the scientist is investigating in his or her lab. The students meet with the scientist and translate their understanding of how the protein works into a physical design highlighted by different colors that represent their interpretations of the protein’s function and structure. The final model is brought to life using 3-D printing, to which many scientists do not have access.


Based on their research, Pingry students created a poster that illustrates the function of the protein, the lab’s experiments to discover how the protein works, and how the students translated their knowledge into the physical design. They submitted the poster at the Experimental Biology Conference, of which ASBMB is a member. Pingry has taken students to this conference for four consecutive years because there are 20,000 to 30,000 scientists represented, with thousands of posters on view. The poster and conference are integral to the S.M.A.R.T. Team’s education, and they provide the students with opportunities to explain to others what they have learned.

“The conference provides an opportunity for the students to present their work, to see the other teams’ work, and, most importantly, to be part of this meeting where graduate students and scientists present their work,” said Pingry science faculty member and S.M.A.R.T. Team advisor Tommie Hata.

Joining Pingry’s S.M.A.R.T. Team is an honor because students have to submit an application that demonstrates their understanding of certain biological subjects. Mr. Hata wants the students to benefit from unique scientific experiences and perspectives, which they gain by interacting with scientists.

Members of Pingry’s 2009-10 S.M.A.R.T. Team were sophomores Caryn Ha (Warren), Ed Kong (West Caldwell), Florence Ma (Westfield), Doug Ober (Watchung), Mai-Lee Picard (Bernardsville), David Sukhin (Watchung), Dylan Sun (Califon), Ricardo Vollbrechthausen (Westfield), Connie Wang (Warren), and Ed Xiao (Livingston). Their cooperating scientist was Dr. Scott Banta, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Columbia University, who engineers and modifies enzymes for practical applications.

From left: Pingry sophomores Florence Ma, Doug Ober, Connie Wang, Mai-Lee Picard, Caryn Ha, David Sukhin, Ricardo Vollbrechthausen, Ed Kong, Dylan Sun, Ed Xiao, with science faculty member Tommie Hata

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