Robyn Tse loves finding answers that can't be looked up in a textbook or online.
The Massapequa High School senior, 17, has taken part in a bevy of research projects, working as a research intern at Rockefeller University and participating on an iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) team at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.
The latter resulted in a bronze medal at iGEM's 2012 Americas East Regional Jamboree, based on the team's efforts to genetically engineer a bacterium called acetobacter xylinum. The bacteria helped to create a waterproof biopolymer that in turn was used to organically fashion a full-scale synthetic biological chair -- yes, an actual chair -- dubbed Gen2Seat. Tse was the team's youngest member.
"This was one of the first opportunities I had to collaborate with scientists," she said. Of the Gen2Seat, she said: "It's very environmentally friendly, and that's so important today."
Her other research includes using a cost-effective genetic technique to identify invasive pests confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and comparing those results to traditional identifications done by the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Tse is a member of her school's mock trial and varsity tennis teams, Model UN Club and National Honor Society.