Young Shelter Island scientist scores at Brookhaven National Laboratory

JULIE LANE PHOTO Young scientist Emily Hyatt pursuing her research at Shelter Island School.
JULIE LANE PHOTO Emily Hyatt pursuing her research at Shelter Island School.

Scientists typically experience many failures before they succeed.

But Shelter Island High School student Emily Hyatt, who has seen her share of failures in teacher Dan Williams’ Intel class, has scored a major success.

Mr. Williams arranged for Ms. Hyatt to take crystals she had developed in the school lab to Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) where Dr. Alexei Soares could examine them under polarized light providing greater resolution examination at what she produced.

“We expected garbage,” Mr. Williams told the Board of Education at an April meeting.

Ms. Hyatt’s ultimate aim was to determine if her crystals could, indeed, be used effectively to determine how various proteins function in the body and how they bind to cells. The purpose of such research is to effect protein development to prevent or treat illnesses.

“This could be a total failure,” Ms. Hyatt said about her  attitude as she prepared for the BNL visit.

“We got really good data,” a glowing Mr. Williams told the Board of Education. “We were shocked,” he said.

“It was really exciting for me,” Ms. Hyatt told the board. “I didn’t think I would ever get this.”

The crystals have been sent to Seattle BioMed, a large nonprofit focused on infectious diseases, for diffraction — a means of X-raying the crystals to see how they might be used.

While she awaits a report,  Ms. Hyatt said she has more data to work with as a result of the BNL visit. She’s hoping to publish her results in a high school science journal that will help establish her credibility as an astute young scientist.

The next stop for her is undergraduate work at the nation’s oldest university for technological research, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

“They have their own x-ray beam on campus,” Ms. Hyatt said, a note of excitement in her voice.