Lawrenceville’s StanX Partnership Bears Fruit

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Lawrenceville’s StanX Partnership Bears Fruit
On Friday, Dr. Seung Kim, MD, PhD, professor of developmental biology at Stanford University, visited Lawrenceville and met with Science Teacher Nicole Lantz’s research in molecular genetics class. Kim observed students dissecting fly larvae to characterize the expression pattern of the novel fly strains the class created this year.
Lantz, who is Assistant Chair of the Science Department and Director of Stan-X Partnerships, notes that Lawrenceville has worked in conjunction with Dr. Kim's lab for six years now, creating transgenic flies that can be used as models for human research.
“We hope we can make a product that can help his research, which is in the field of pancreatic disease, and also other labs studying human disease,” she said.
The Stan-X network is a partnership of secondary schools working together on a similar research program - creating transgenic flies that can be used as tools to study specific tissue function in flies. Last month Lawrenceville hosted a conference that brought together students and faculty from other StanX partnership schools for a poster presentation and collaborative research discussions around their transgenic fly research.
Participants in the April 2023 StanX Conference at Lawrenceville.
“This kind of tool matters in the field of science because fruit flies are a model organism for humans, containing similar genomes and therefore similarities in tissues in diseases,” Lantz says. “Dr. Kim's lab studies type II diabetes, often using fruit flies as a model for diabetes related research.”
When Lawrenceville joined the network, they created a curriculum that was adopted by the other schools in the network. Since then, in her role as Director of Stan-X partnerships, Lantz and her colleagues have recruited new partners to the network and even helped train them.
Each summer, Lantz and Elizabeth Fox, Lawrenceville science teacher and director of student research, run a training program called Discover Now for teachers to help them learn the curriculum and set up labs in their own schools. The network has now grown to include 19 schools, both public and private, as well as three universities (including Harvard, Oxford and Loyola Marymount).
Three years ago, the Stan-X program held its first virtual conference of schools, allowing the students from each program to present their research.
“Each of our students creates their own unique strain of fruit fly and therefore each student presents their own work,” Lantz says.
At this year’s in-person event, students from each of the schools presented in the main forum, discussing their unique challenges as a lab group. Then students shared individual projects in poster sessions, and participated in mixed group challenge sessions where students from different schools tackled tough new problems that relied heavily on their knowledge from the shared curriculum they have used throughout the year.
April 2023 StanX plenary.
April 2023 StanX Conference poster session.
“What makes this conference great is that we promote interaction between the schools throughout the year, so the kids are already familiar with a lot of the visiting students,” Lantz says.
Students from the Chapin School visited Lawrenceville earlier this spring to do some work in our lab, working together with Lawrenceville students. Haileybury also arrived at Lawrenceville before the conference to get time in campus labs with Lawrentians before the conference began.
April 2023 StanX lab research.
“In the past, we have also done Zoom sessions with other partners to build a scientific community within the Stan-X network,” Lantz says. “This allows us to model for our students the collaborative nature of the professional scientific community.”
Click here to view a Flickr album of photos from the conference.