UAlbany Symposium Showcases High School Science Researchers Statewide

By Mike Nolan

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 23, 2023) — The University at Albany hosted more than 450 science research students and teachers for the 38th annual Upstate New York Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (Upstate NY JSHS) earlier this month.

Each spring, young scientists representing high schools from Westchester County to Western New York visit UAlbany to present the results of original scientific research before fellow students, teachers, mentors and judges during a two-day event. It is among the nation’s most prestigious events for students to present original research in a symposium-style format.

This year’s event, which included students and teachers from 40 different schools, was hosted on March 8 and 9 in the Campus Center. It was the symposium’s first return to an in-person event since the start of the pandemic.

“It is quite inspiring to see young people getting engaged in research — even before you get to college,” said President Rodríguez, while welcoming the high school students to campus on the first night of the symposium. “Like you, I am a researcher, and I believe this is one of the best things you can do to prepare for success in college, for your careers and for life in general.

“You represent the future generations of outstanding scientists, developing research that will impact our communities, locally and globally.”

Upstate Scholars

The Upstate NY JSHS is co-directed by Leonard Behr, UAlbany in the High School Program’s director of Science Research in the High School and lead liaison to the program; and Tim Lance, a University at Albany Distinguished Service Professor emeritus, president of the New York State Education and Research Network, and emeritus from NYSERNet.

For most students, the Upstate NY JSHS presentations represent the culmination of a three-year Science Research in the High School program that unites students, teachers and mentors in a common research experience. The program has cultivated future scientists from schools in every region of the state.

“The Science Research in the High School program and the New York Upstate Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, both at the University at Albany, have helped so many of these honored students to take the steps needed to join careers in science research,” said Behr. “Being a part of these wonderful programs for the past twenty-six years is the perfect culmination of my life in education." 

Next Stop, Nationals

The students presenting at UAlbany were finalists from three regional symposiums: one in the Capital District hosted by Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, the second in Westchester County hosted by John Jay High School and a third in Rochester hosted by RIT.

Five finalists are moving on to share their research at the 61st National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, which takes place April 12-15 in Virginia Beach.

Finalists include:

  • Sarah Jennings, Ossining High School
  • Samara Davis, Ossining High School
  • Chloe Bernstein, Byram Hills High School
  • Julia Meyerson, Pelham Memorial High School
  • Soumya Kamada, Spackenkill High School

“I have been involved in school programming for over 40 years. Some of that effort was to provide support, often in middle school and high schools, to engage the kids and let them know the possibilities and their potential,” said Lance. “At JSHS, we are working at a much higher level, nurturing young researchers working on hard problems with the help of their teachers and research mentors. The Upstate New York Region is powerful and brings some of the toughest competition in the nation.”

The National JSHS brings together 245 high school students who compete for college scholarships. Over the years, the Upstate NY JSHS has produced several first or second place winners.

Honoring Local Educators

Daniel Wulff, a professor of Biological Sciences who retired in 2016 after a 36-year career at UAlbany, received a lifetime achievement award during the symposium for his leadership in bringing Upstate NY JSHS to campus. Regina Reals, a chemistry teacher at Burnt Hills–Ballston Lake High School, received an outstanding service award. Reals coordinates the Eastern N.Y. sub-regional symposium.

Mary Hamilla, a graduate of the Science Research in the High School program at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School and current associate quality control (QC) analyst at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, offered a keynote address during the symposium titled “My STEM Career in the Capital Region.”

For more information on the Upstate NY JSHS, visit


Photos: Brian Busher and Patrick Dodson