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Immersion Science Research

The Immersion Science Program Research goals

The Immersion Science program (ISP) aims to train high school students in cutting-edge biomedical research. Students and teachers participate in courses in the FCCC Teaching Laboratory in the Reimann Building, conducting novel research to define the cancer signals targeted by nutrients. 

Mapping nutrient targets during development

The research branch of our Immersion Science program for high school students aims to determine the direct molecular targets of dietary nutrients by determining their developmental effects in varied genetic backgrounds in the fly. This work involves hundreds of high school students in the FCCC Teaching Lab here on campus and in high school classrooms in Philadelphia, its surrounding counties, and New Jersey, as well as graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who follow up initial results from the program with advanced approaches.  We have found that high school students produce reproducible, high quality data that is in peer-reviewed publications, suggesting that crowdsourcing of cancer-relevant experiments among hundreds of students is a successful and inexpensive approach to large-scale understanding of the roles of specific nutrients in development. Current work focuses on nutrients that target the Ras, Hedgehog, and nuclear hormone receptor signaling pathways. 

ISP Research Course on FCCC campus

Who should apply?

The Immersion Science Program is open to all students in the Philadelphia- Tri-State area.  Applications are blind-reviewed, so really work to make yourself come to life from the pages of the open-ended questions. The ISP is not a GPA or standardized test-driven program. We are looking for participants that want to contribute academically, socially, and intellectually to the ISP Community.  Students who think outside-the-box, have collaborative natures, and will go on to be ambassadors of the ISP are encouraged to apply. The ISP welcomes your talents and problem solving skills as we work together towards a better understand the pathways frequently studied in cancer and the dietary components that affect them.

Am I Eligible?
  • Participants MUST be 16 years of age prior to the official start of the session applied for. (This is a safety requirement to work in a research laboratory.)
  • Completion of BOTH high school biology and chemistry; neither course may be concurrent
  • A commitment to attend all 11 weeks of this highly competitive program, including the student presentation day in its entirety. Sections run for ~3 hours:
    • Section 1 will run from  8:30am to 11:30am on consecutive Saturdays, with mandatory attendance for the final student presentations
    • Section 2 will run from 12:30pm to 3:30pm on consecutive Saturdays, with mandatory attendance for the final student presentations 
  • Parental consent is required for student participation (please see application).
  • Selected participants will complete the on-boarding process through the Fox Chase Office of Volunteer Services 

Publications

Hartman, T.R., Ventresca, E.*, Hopkins, A.*, Zinshteyn, D.E., Singh, T., O’Brien, J.A., Neubert, B.C., Hartman, M.G., Schofield, H.K., Stavrides, K.P., Talbot, D. E., Riggs, D. J., Pritchard, C., O’Reilly, A.M.  Novel tools for genetic manipulation of Follicle Stem Cells in the Drosophila ovary reveal an integrin-dependent transition from quiescence to proliferation. Genetics, 114.173617 PubMed  

Henry, R.A., Singh, T, Kuo, Y.M., Biester, A., O’Keefe, A., Lee, S., Andrews, A.J., O’Reilly, A.M. Quantitative measurement of histone tail acetylation reveals stage-specific regulation and response to environmental changes during Drosophila development. Biochemistry, DOI: 10.1021/acs/biochem.5b01070.

 

Immersion Science phases: I, Outreach; II, Courses; III, CURE Fellowship
Nutritional supplement screen
Immersion Science, Class of 2015
Immersion Science, Class of 2014
Immersion Science, Class of 2013

 

Dara Ruiz-Whalen, MDEd
Dara M. Ruiz-Whalen, MSEd
Educational Director, Immersion Science Program
Office: R345
Teaching Lab: R340
215-728-2858
Dara.Whalen@fccc.edu

Alana O'Reilly, PhD
Alana O'Reilly, PhD
Scientific Director, Immersion Science Program
Office: R343
215-214-1653
Alana.OReilly@fccc.edu

 

 

Additional Staff

  • Eric Lee, PhD, Immersion Science Instructor, 2016
  • Esteban Martinez. Immersion Science Instructor, 2016
  • Christopher Aichele, MSEd, Immersion Science Instructor, 2015
  • Ryan Henry, PhD, Immersion Science Instructor, 2014
  • Maria Radu, PhD, Immersion Science Instructor, 2014
  • Ernest Boamah, PhD, Immersion Science Instructor, 2013
  • Todd Strochlic, VMD, PhD, Immersion Science Instructor, 2013

Former Staff

  • Devon Riggs
  • Adam Bolotsky
  • Cal McAuliffe
  • Danielle Talbot
  • Benjamin Strekha
  • Sanat Deshpande
  • Ethan Silver
  • Yvegniya Miglo
  • Manali Shah
  • Raj Madhani
  • Vignesh Murali
  • Laura Leonard
  • Hannah Mumber

ISP Summer Fellows MUST complete the Immersion Science Program’s Research Course for consideration in this program.  Fellows conduct independent research in FCCC laboratories under the direction of faculty and postdoctoral fellows.  CURE fellows are supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute that aims to address disparities at the faculty level in biomedical science.  Kahn Family fellows are supported by the generosity of the Kahn Family. 

CURE Fellowship from the National Institute of Health (NIH) à National Cancer Institute (NCI) 

Devon Riggs (ISP ’13, CURE ’13-14, Strochlic/Peterson, O’Reilly labs)
Benjamin Strekha (ISP ’13, CURE ’13, Rall lab)
Vignesh Murali (ISP ’13, CURE ’13-14, Yen lab)
Jane Miglo (ISP ’13, CURE ’13-14, Connolly lab)
Raj Madhani (ISP ’13, CURE ’13-14, Cukierman lab)
Danielle Talbot (ISP ’14, CURE ’14, Ruiz-Whalen/Teaching lab)
Caroline Pritchard  (ISP ’14, CURE ’14-15, Kruger, Henry/Andrews labs)
Laura Leonard (ISP ’14, CURE ’14, Ruiz-Whalen/Teaching lab)
Hannah Mumber (ISP ’13, CURE ’13-14, Radu/Chernoff lab)
Sanat Deshpande (CURE ’14-15, Arora/Enders lab)
Angela Le (ISP ’15, CURE ’15, Ruiz-Whalen/Teaching lab)
Amanda Browne (ISP ’14, CURE ’15-16, Singh/O’Reilly, Arora/Golemis labs)
Shannon Robins (ISP ’14, CURE ’14-15, Yang lab)
Anushk Gupta (ISP ’16, CURE ’16, Martinez/Sykes lab)
Jasmine Saunders (ISP ’16, CURE ’16, O’Reilly, Ruiz-Whalen/Teaching labs)
Yagouba Diallo (ISP ’15, CURE ’16, Rhoades/Ma and Dunbrack labs)
Jessica Vadaketh (ISP ’14, CURE ’14-15, Sykes lab)
Allison Biester (ISP ’14, CURE ’15, Katz lab)
Tori McGovern (ISP ’15, CURE ’15, Fink/Peterson lab)
Cassie Stapf (ISP ’15, CURE ’15, Bellacosa lab)
Tess Konnovitch (ISP ’15, CURE ’15, O’Reilly lab)
Priya Zaveri (ISP’14, CURE ’15, Robinson lab)
Hang Truong (ISP ’16, CURE, ’16, Hartman lab)
Marina McCormick (ISP ’16, CURE ’16, Ruiz-Whalen/Teaching lab)
Melissa Aykit (ISP ’16, CURE ’16, O’Reilly, Ruiz-Whalen/Teaching labs)
Melissa Wang (ISP ’16, CURE ’16, Henry/Andrews lab)
Christina Tsiobikas (ISP ’16, CURE ’16, Simonet/Peterson lab)
Gabriela Cruz  (ISP ’15, CURE ’16, Lee/O’Reilly lab)

Fox Chase Cancer Center Undergraduate Fellows

Adam Bolotsky (ISP ’13, O’Reilly lab)
Manali Shah (ISP ’13, Arora/Enders lab)
Yvegniya (Jane) Miglo (ISP ’13, Connolly lab)
Jessica Vadaketh (ISP ’14, Marcantonio /Sykes lab)

Choose Development! Fellowship from the Society for Developmental Biology (SDB)

Caroline Pritchard (ISP ’14, O’Reilly Lab)

Kahn Family Fellowship

Brian Milenki (ISP ’15, Radu/Chernoff lab)
Ethan Silver (ISP ’14, Katz lab)
Ben Neubert (’15, Hartman/O’Reilly lab)

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Disease

Cal McAuliffe   (ISP ’13, Singh/O’Reilly lab)

TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAM (T-ISP)

In Fall 2013, we invited teachers from Philadelphia and the neighboring counties to train much in the same way our ISPers had in the previous Spring. In subsequent years, we developed additional collaborative partnerships in Philadelphia and New Jersey and we will be working with many of our T-ISPers to share core Immersion Science techniques with their students in alignment with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Core Standards.

The teachers that recently participated in our SDB pilot and launched the outreach ISP program (C-ISP) in their home classrooms in Philadelphia were members of the pilot T-ISP session!! If you are a biology-, life sciences-, or health sciences-teacher, interested in learning more about bringing “Immersion Science” into your home classrooms, please contact the ISP Team: ImmersionScience.FoxChase@fccc.edu

Frequently Asked Questions

IN-CLASSROOM TRAINING PROGRAM (C-ISP)

Teachers who train in the ISP have the opportunity to participate in C-ISP.  The ISP Teaching Lab is re-created in high school classrooms, and students conduct experiments that complement work necessary for publication of novel findings initiated in the Research Course program. C-ISP is currently hosted at three schools in Philadelphia (Academy at Palumbo, Abraham Lincoln High School, and Nazareth Academy) and at Kingsway Regional High School in New Jersey.  C-ISP students participate in a research Symposium at FCCC, providing them the opportunity to contribute to cutting edge cancer research and integrate into the growing ISP community. Special thanks to the Society for Developmental Biology- SDB- for the grant funding to pilot this program. 

ISP is committed to training diverse students who will become the next generation of cancer researchers. Through partnerships with Esperanza College in Philadelphia and Montgomery County Community College, ISP trains 8th- recent high school graduates, in boot camp laboratory techniques, concepts in cancer biology and nutrition, and presentation skills required of much more senior scientists.

Immersion Science Fly Lab at Esperanza College

FLY LAB @ ESPERANZA COLLEGE

Esperanza: FlyLab, hosted at Esperanza College in North Philadelphia, serving a primarily Hispanic population. This is a 1-week science experience camp open to all high school and recent high school graduates interested in learning more about laboratory research. Students work collaboratively as they complete bench work boot-camp, have interactive lectures, and learn about fly-eye genetics. The week concludes with students discussing their findings and proposing next steps in the research.
 

Immersion Essentials

IMMERSION ESSENTIALS @ Montgomery County Community College

Immersion Essentials- hosted at the Pottstown and Blue Bell campuses of Montgomery County Community College serving students 13 to 15 years of age. Participants engage in collaborative learning for the week-long science experience camp. In addition to boot camp basics and introduction to bench-work, students hear from speakers in various STEM fields and present their findings during a mini-poster session. (Family and friends are welcome to attend and ask questions about the posters)
Read about the 2016 program

 

Note:
The TRiP program is an ISP spin-off program that has adapted primary ISP materials and core principles to increase enthusiasm of students for science. TRiP is not affiliated with the ISP.

For general questions about the Immersion Science program, write to us at ImmersionScience.FoxChase@fccc.edu.