Sayville High School Senior Rebecca Monastero has been named a top 10 finalist in the Neuroscience Research Prize by the American Academy of Neurology for the research she conducted this past summer as a Simons Fellow at Stony Brook University under the mentorship of Dr. Jaymie Meliker.
Rebecca’s research entitled Interactions of Mercury and Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Avid Seafood Consumers was conducted on participants from Long Island. The objectives of this epidemiology study were to cluster seafood consumers based on dietary patterns to investigate relationships between seafood consumption, mercury, omega-3s, and endpoints including anxiety, hypertension, and difficulty sleeping.
The sample (N=156), recruited by a local university, completed a seafood consumption frequency survey and health questionnaires on health endpoints followed by blood pressure measurements and blood draws analyzed for mercury and omega-3 levels. Statistical analyses included hierarchical cluster analysis to group consumers based upon frequency of seafood consumption and linear and logistic regression models to correlate seafood consumers and health endpoints with mercury and omega-3s.
Results suggest that clusters of participants characterized by high tuna consumption were linked with high blood mercury levels, and high salmon consumption was associated with high blood omega-3s (p<0.05). Anxiety was correlated with mercury whereas correlations between difficulty sleeping and mercury or omega-3s and hypertension and mercury or omega-3s were not significant.
With the assistance of Sayville’s Science Research Teacher Maria Brown, Rebecca's research has been submitted to the Intel Science Talent Search and will be submitted to both the Long Island and New York State Science and Engineering Fairs. Best of luck to Rebecca as she continues in the finalist round!
Shown left to right are Sayville High School Principal Ron Hoffer, Rebecca Monastero, Science Research Teacher Maria Brown, and Deputy Superintendent of Schools Dr. Geraldine Sullivan Keck.