LVHS Senior, Cristina Sorrento has been chosen as a semifinalist in the 2009 Siemens Competition. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first semifinalist that Locust Valley has had in this competition since 2003.

We had six entries by nine students. The other students were Eric Padilla, Max Turowsky, Alexandra Sharp, Mark Vessalico, A.J. Nickas, Hope Craig, Jaime Jaget, and Sami Limperis- Kaufman. Each student worked hard and entered a paper that was exceptional. They were all fantastic papers, and they should all be proud of their accomplishments. “I am very proud of Cristina’s accomplishments, and equally proud of all my students who worked hard to submit papers worthy of the Siemens Competition,” stated Chris Hoppner, Locust Valley High School Science Teacher.

Siemens is considered by many to be the premier science, math, and technology competition in the nation. The papers submitted must follow strict guidelines as to structure, length, and topic. These papers are read “blind”, meaning that no student name, gender, school affiliation, town, university, mentor name, or any other identifying factor can be part of the paper. The papers are graded specifically on the science of the research completed.

From approximately 1,200 entries, only 300 are chosen as semifinalists. Cristina’s paper was titled: The Regulatory Effects of p21WAF1/CIP1 On Mesenchymal Stem Cell Proliferation and Differentiation Following Ionizing Radiation. It focused on the fact that although radiation therapy is useful in treating cancer, it is limited by its damaging effects on normal cells. The clinical effects of radiation therapy are well-known, but the effects of radiotherapy are not as well-known at the molecular level. Radiotherapy prevents progression through the cell cycle and inhibits cellular differentiation. P21 (a gene product and cell-cycle inhibitor which limits these processes) expression is increased after radiation therapy. Cristina’s study investigated the effects of p21 expression on stem cell differentiation and proliferation following radiation therapy.

Cristina and the other students from LVHS put in exhaustive amounts of work either in the field, in a lab, or under the guidance of a mentor scientist. Cristina worked this past summer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, working up to 40 hours each week.