It is not often that students can pinpoint the exact high school class that determines their path forward. But that is what the Science Research Class has done for Somers High School senior and class of 2020 valedictorian Maeve Janecka.
“If it weren’t for this class, I never would have gotten the experiences in a lab that taught me that chemistry is something I want to do with my life,” says Janecka.
This class was also Janecka’s path to a prestigious award in the Regeneron Science Talent Search competition. Janecka was named a semi-finalist in the contest, received a $2,000 scholarship, and an additional $2,000 for the SHS Science Research program.
Janecka’s research is on JUUL brand e-cigarettes, and the toxic heavy metal content in the JUUL vapor. She built a device in a lab at Mount Saint Mary College which created suction on JUUL e-cigarettes. That suction created vapor, which Janecka either drew through filters or condensed to collect a precipitate. Her analysis of those samples detected elevated levels of iron, copper and chromium.
“Everyone knows someone who vapes,” says Janecka. “I have friends who vape and half the time I think it is because they don’t have the resources to make informed decisions about e-cigarettes. I’m really hoping my research can help them make these choices in the future.”
Science Research teacher Bill Maelia says that the personal connection Janecka has with her research is one of the reasons she has been so successful with her project.
“I always tell students when they come into the program, if you can find something that is personal to you, something you are passionate about, you can really take it somewhere," says Maelia. "She hit the ground running and never really looked back.”