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Commack High School Student Named Regeneron Scholar
Pragati, Regeneron ScholarThe Commack School District is very proud to announce that Pragati Muthukumar was named a Scholar today in the 2019 Regeneron Science Talent Search. Pragati is a senior at Commack High School, and she is one of the 300 semifinalists chosen from 1,964 students from high schools across the nation and internationally who entered the competition. The competition is sponsored by the Society for Science & The Public, which will provide a prize of $2,000 to Pragati and an additional $2,000 to the science research program.  

“Pragati is a shining star in science research,” said Alison Offerman-Celentano, Commack’s Director of Science. She and her team won the Ex-MASS competition and presented at a professional astronomical conference in California. She also represented Commack at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair last May and took second place in Plant Sciences. 

Pragati was excited about her win today. “There is so much that happens senior year, with college essays and my IB classes. Then, in the middle of it all, is the Regeneron STS application. The Regeneron competition means so much because it's about more than just me as a student.  I felt like the application really tried to find out who I was across the academic, extracurricular, and personal parts of my life.  To be chosen as a semifinalist is so cool!” 

“The science research team at Commack High School is second to none, said Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Donald James. “Working alongside their teachers and mentors, our bright and motivated students spend countless hours researching and documenting their project. We are extremely proud of Pragati and the dedicated professionals who prepare our students for rigorous competitions such as this one.”  

Pragati’s project is titled, “Phylogenetic Analysis to Provide Insight on the Trihelix Gene Function in Arabidopsis thaliana.” Knowing that plant growth and productivity is and will continue to be greatly affected by climate change, Pragati’s study focused on a specific gene family with known roles in heat and drought stress. She embarked on an ambitious project to identify, classify and predict gene function in this family through a phylogenetic study (think of a tree-like drawing that shows evolutionary relationships). She discovered two particular gene pairs that are predicted to be induced by high temperatures and code for heat stress proteins. Her work could be instrumental in our quest to increase crop yields during this time of climate change.
 
The competition this year asked for a student Tweet about their project. Pragati’s clever Tweet: “Do you photosympathize with plants? Do you BeLEAF in Plant Science? Plant genomics are TREE-mendous fun! Check out this project that redefines functional genomics! Read about Pragati's work as she uses comparative genomics to discover new Trihelix genes and function!! #whatACORNYpun #gonnaleafthisrighthere”
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