science research

Huntington’s Science Research Program Thrives

Huntington High School's science research program is thriving.

September 19, 2017

Huntington High School’s science research program is thriving. About 80 teenagers spread across grades 9-12 are participating in it, with some students now in their fourth year.

Students in the program have won regional, state and national honors over the years and have advanced to the pinnacle of high school science research contests. Participants conduct research in the high school lab and at off-site labs under the watchful eyes of professional mentors.

The program is led by science teacher Lori Kenny, who works alongside department colleagues Dame Forbes and Deborah Beck. Teachers Gina Carone and Judy Pazienza help mentor program participants as they develop and refine their projects.

Lori Kenny
Teacher Lori Kenny heads Huntington
High School's science research program.

“It is a career forward program that helps students become ready for all types of jobs,” Mrs. Kenny said. “Students leave equipped with skills to not only perform original scientific research independently, but also bring a great deal of passion and interest in the STEM careers to our community.”

Mrs. Kenny prepares research class lessons, revises the curriculum and oversees all sections and materials for project orders. The longtime educator determines the “best fit” for individual students interested in summer research experiences and selects the competitions they should enter.

“Dame has also been involved in the program for many years and is integral as well,” Mrs. Kenny said. “Debbie Beck is currently teaching in it for her second year.”

The research program helps students develop their oral and written skills. Participants make presentations, engage in statistical analysis and use various forms of technology. Students are assessed via a portfolio that typically includes written work, project proposals, research analysis and log data entry.

“The science research program at Huntington High School has grown significantly over the years under the expert guidance of Lori Kenny,” Principal Brenden Cusack said. “Students engage in a wide variety of projects involving life and physical sciences, as well as computer science and they excel in every area. The program strikes an excellent balance between guided practice with science teachers, work with outside mentors and independent research. The culminating symposium at the end of each year never fails to engage the throngs of visitors in attendance.”

This year’s program features particularly enthusiastic students. Some of the teenagers are coming off major summer research internships.

“Thanks to the guidance of Mrs. Kenny, Mrs. Forbes and Mrs. Beck, the students are off to a great start to the year,” said Jill N. Johanson, district director of STEM. “Some students are beginning to find their areas of interest and develop project possibilities while others are continuing work they began last year. I am very excited to support all of their hard work.”

For more information about the program or to speak about becoming a mentor to a science research student, contact Lori Kenny at lkenny@hufsd.edu.

A Huntington science teacher since December 2005, Mrs. Kenny earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology at St. Michael’s College in Vermont in 1998 and obtained a Master of Science in biology at Adelphi University 2000. She also studied wildlife and ecology at the School for International Training in Africa and holds graduate teacher’s certification from Long Island University – C.W. Post College.

Mrs. Kenny’s excellence was formally recognized when the National Association of Biology Teachers honored her as New York State’s recipient of the organizations 2014/15 Outstanding Biology Teacher Award.

Prior to coming to Huntington, Mrs. Kenny worked at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as a lab technician in the department of neurobiology from 1998 to 2005. In this position she conducted collaborative and independent behavioral and molecular genetic experiments, identifying and characterizing genes involved in learning and memory; maintained the inventory of lab reagents and materials, gained highly developed behavioral genetic and molecular skills such as genomic prep, PCR, digests, primer development, brain histology, lax Z and other staining techniques; trained visiting scientists to perform behavioral analysis and performed website development.

In late 2001, Mrs. Kenny represented the Cold Spring Harbor Lab as a teacher at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, lecturing on background material and various techniques, directing the set-up and training of lab technicians on a large-scale forward mutagenesis project and ordering and arranging the shipment of all supplies.

(Huntington senior Nolan Piccola, a science research program intern, contributed to this story.)