Seniors participate in year-long research projects


Photo courtesy of Nicole Strom

The entire class conducts research daily for their projects.

Nicole Strom, Staff Writer

The students of Biomedical Sciences III: AP Research have been working extremely hard on developing research questions and research models since the beginning of the school year. 

The course is the final biomedical sciences course that is offered to senior students who have completed Biomedical Sciences I: Investigations and Biomedical Science II: Seminar. The basis of the course is to complete a year-long research project surrounding a central research question chosen by the student. 

The class is taught by Mr. Mark Peterson, who is known as a biology teacher, but many people do not know that he actually taught medical school before coming to BSM. “AP Research/Biomed III is an authentic learning experience for students. Their questions and curiosities drive the course and their individual work; for many students, this is the first time they get to ask their own questions and find their own answers with the struggles and awards that go along with that. I particularly like watching students struggle a lot and then find success. It’s probably the most rewarding course I’ve ever been a part of,” Peterson said. 

After receiving permission from the school and internal review board (consisting of the deans, Dr. Susan Skinner, Dr. Stephenson, and an outside expert), students can begin their research. Seniors Laura Boase and Grace Melin are investigating the effects of essential oils on anxiety and stress along with the placebo effect. They recently met with an expert in essential oils, Dr. Linda Halcon, an associate professor who has published and co-authored a few studies. “I’m super excited to work with Laura on our study with essential oils. It’s such an unknown topic so it will be fun to dig deeper into [the study of] them,” Melin said.

I’m super excited to work with Laura on our study with essential oils. It’s such an unknown topic so it will be fun to dig deeper into [the study of] them.

— Grace Melin

Ava Peterson is researching the effects of microplastics on the reproduction and development of zebrafish embryos. She recently met with an expert at the University of Minnesota at their zebrafish lab to learn more about the intricacies of her project and then attended a class to watch a presentation on the effects of microplastics on the bladder of a zebrafish. “The class was full of students with projects similar to mine and I was able to ask them questions about their research. It really helped me to solidify how I would go about conducting my research. It was a really good experience,” senior Ava Peterson said. 

Senior Hayden Ochs is researching graphene oxide and if it can limit the growth of bacteria as an alternative to antibiotics. “My research is going pretty well and I’ve seen promising results in similar research articles. I’ve spoken with a researcher at the U [University of Minnesota]  about graphene and emailed another researcher from 3M who gave me more advice,” Ochs said. 

A few other students’ research questions include: how does CBD oil effect anxiety in zebrafish by Maggie Murnan and Reilly Rahill; Emma Bearson and Kiara Herro are working to create a pacemaker to cure a disease of the esophagus that halts peristalsis, and Ryan Norkorsky is researching the effects of channel blockers (calcium and magnesium) on cancer in the human body.  They will compile their research paper and findings in a presentation as the final culmination of their research for the past school year. Students will participate in the regional Minnesota Science Fair and have the chance of being published at the end of the year.