Snapshots of St. George's

In Paris, learning beyond expectations
Posted 06/28/2017 08:00AM

ACADEMICS

Six of our talented female science students were just the latest to benefit from St. George’s association with the world-renowned Curie Institute, the cancer research center established in 1909 by the noted physicist and chemist Marie Curie.

Since 2011, more than 30 SG students have studied in the labs at the Paris-based Curie as part of our Global Cultural Initiatives Program (GCIP), developed and overseen by Director of Signature Programs Allison de Horsey.

This year rising sixth-formers Lila Burns, Maia Lineberry, Beste Engin, Rose Cheng, Irem Tural and Sophie Coolidge (above) each had the chance to work in Curie’s research facilities, which focus on cell biology and oncology. (The institute also operates a hospital specializing in the treatment of cancer.)

Watch a video of Sophie Coolidge '18 and Maia Lineberry '18 talk about the research they are doing as interns.

St. George’s is the only U.S. high school with such a relationship with the Curie and working in the institute’s labs has certainly been a boon to our science-minded students. “Our students are immersed in the world of research — using techniques and performing experiments they’ve learned about in their science courses,” Ms. de Horsey said.

The program puts students side-by-side with professionals working on the cutting edge of cancer studies. For Beste, it provided invaluable learning opportunities.

“This two-week internship has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life,” she said. “The Curie Institute has provided me with substantial and beneficial skills for my future in the medical world.”

Irem said she learned not only new information, but also new skills at the Curie. “The researchers are not going to explain everything because they are so busy,” she said. “In order to understand the material in depth, you have to learn to not be afraid to ask questions. It is an important skill to have and I would not have learned so much if I hadn’t asked about as much as I did.”

Several of the girls also said the experience was a good test of their interest level in the field.

“I’ve been able to see the complexities of neuroscience up close,” Maia said. “I’ve always been interested in neurology and being able to see the building blocks of the field, as well as the research that goes into the neuroscience, has solidified my passion.”

Sophie agreed.

“Seeing my coworkers and getting a taste for what they do on a day-to-day basis — the time commitment and small steps forward — it was truly a unique and engaging experience that was amazing to be a part of,” Sophie said.

One of the experiments Lila took part in involved sequencing DNA from frogs, mice, rabbits and humans. “This opportunity has allowed me to deepen my love for science and my passion to learn more about the biology world,” she said.

In turn, having American students in their labs has offered unique opportunities to the Curie’s researchers. “Working with our students gives them the opportunity to explain their work in English, share their passion and inspire the next generation of scientists,” Ms. de Horsey said.

Jacqueline Legras, the Curie’s program coordinator of the training unit and hospital training group said our students have earned her respect and admiration. “Once more it was a pleasure to welcome these six young girls motivated by science,” Ms. Legras said. “We are glad to hear that they learned a lot within our institution and that they lived a new experience in our labs.”

This year SG’s relationship with the Curie continues to grow and expand.

Our first graduate returned to the Curie for further study. Lilly Scheibe ’15, now a student at Yale University, spent two months working in the labs at the Curie earlier this summer.

And on June 27, more than 20 Young Principal Investigators from the institute arrived on the Hilltop from Paris for a retreat at St. George’s. Four SG science teachers and three recent graduates took part in the program, which took place in the new SG Academic Center.

Plans are to continue to nurture this valuable relationship.

“Spending time at the Curie is truly inspiring,” said Ms. de Horsey. “The students and I marveled at the researchers’ extraordinary dedication for science and for pushing the bounds to find new cures for all of us.”

Rose said interning at the Curie makes her feel hopeful for the future.

“I love science because of its ability to change the world,” she said.

A Coeducational Boarding and Day School for Grades 9 Through 12
St. George's School
372 Purgatory Road Middletown, Rhode Island 02842
401-847-7565
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