Golden Retrievers are generally known as a friendly breed. Beagles are often said to like to roam. Boxers are known for their loyalty. Are dogs' personalities predicted by their genes? How much is nature and how much is nurture? This was just one of the questions that Fiona Higgins '20 explored in her project for Ms. Cataldo's Current Topics and Research in Science and Technology class (CTR).
Students in Ms. Cataldo's CTR class presented their projects last Tuesday evening in the Lindberg-Serries Theater. Each student gave a 15 minute presentation followed by questions from the audience. Higgins studied wolves and dogs to learn more about evolutionary genomics—or how genes are transmitted through generations. She looked at experiments conducted by scientists including one by Dr. Bridgett Von Holdt on canine sociability. Von Holdt's study also shed light on certain human traits such as Williams Syndrome, which is a rare genetic disorder that makes people indiscriminately friendly.
Other presentations during the symposium included the fast-growing field of anti-aging treatments by Julian Li, genetic insight into the human past by Kelsey Ji, and psychedelics use in mental health care by William Li.
This 12th grade elective CTR course is "designed for students to explore topics in science and technology both within and beyond BB&N by critically reviewing current literature, presenting recent findings in science and potentially undertaking an independent research project outside of BB&N," according to Cataldo. The class goes on several field trips including to Partners Health Care Personalized Medicine at MIT, which promotes genetics and genomics in research and clinical practice, Save that Stuff in Charlestown, where all BB&N's waste and recycling is processed, and the Museum of Fine Arts Restoration Lab. To take the course, students must gain approval by the department head by showing they are "motivated, independent learners capable of working within established timeframes to achieve research and presentation goals."