Jacklyn Sullivan has spent years surveying her peers as well as parents to better understand why we behave as we do.
"I think it's cool to see how humans interact on a behavioral level -- how there is a pattern to it," said Sullivan, 17, of Wantagh.
She was recently a semifinalist in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search, recognized for her work in assessing girls' body image. In May, she presented her research at the Association for Psychological Science convention in Chicago.
Sullivan gained recognition for another study focused on parents' attachment to particular children and presented her work at the American Psychological Association Conference in Washington, D.C., in August.
"It was interesting to see research being done by such influential people," she said.
Sullivan has also examined generational differences in views on same-sex marriage and homosexuality, a study she plans to continue in college.
David Friedman, science research coordinator at MacArthur, said Sullivan takes her work very seriously and is eager to help other students.
"She is always in the lab, missing her lunch period, coming in before school, coming in after school or for weekend competitions," he said.
But there's more to Sullivan, who has dyslexia, than research projects. She has spent years collecting food and gently used sports equipment for needy students around the world.
Her Old Cleats for New Feet program, which she started in 2003, has delivered more than 13,000 cleats, balls, jerseys and other items to children in Haiti, Iraq, Rwanda, Uganda, the Dominican Republic, New Orleans, the Bronx and Philadelphia. The U.S. Soccer Foundation named her its National Volunteer of the Year in 2009.
HER PLANS: Sullivan will study psychology at Binghamton University.
AT COLLEGE I'M MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO: "Taking new classes that I might not have been able to take in high school."
HIGH SCHOOL HIGH POINT: "Going to science fairs and presenting."