Benjamin Kornick has had an interesting summer.
Since winning one of the grand prizes at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May and graduating from Roslyn High School in June, he got an opportunity earlier this month to present his project in front of a panel at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.
On Aug. 7, Kornick stood calmly before researchers from the NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse and spoke about his project, "OMG: Look Who Joined Facebook! The Relationship Between Parenting and Adolescent Risk Behaviors."
"It felt absolutely incredible. It was the chance of a lifetime to show the work I did in high school to these world-renowned scientists," Kornick, 18, said. "Nervous wouldn't be the word, though. I was more anxious to do it, but I knew my research had done well, I was confident, so I was more just excited than nervous."
Kornick's project, which took two years, focused on the correlation between parenting techniques and risky teen behavior online and offline.
Presenting his research, he said, introduced him to the world of public policy and opened some doors. By meeting the researchers, including NIDA director Nora Volkow, Kornick said he was able to make connections to continue his research on parenting an "online generation" at the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, where he will begin classes in September.
"It was very interesting not only to present in front of these researchers who are so influential in their field but also . . . they have already hooked me up with people who do research on a similar topic at Columbia," he said.
He said he always was interested in policy work, describing himself as "a people person," but added that doing behavioral research, entering the Intel fair and presenting his project "ignited the idea that I could enjoy doing research as a career."
Kornick plans to double major in political science and psychology at Columbia.
"Working with Ben was terrific. He's got a great combination of a real feel for what he's studying and genuine interest and commitment," said Allyson Weseley, Roslyn High School coordinator of secondary research.
"Nothing against textbooks," Kornick said, "but the idea of doing independent research and coming up with a topic that's personal to you and having to figure out the answer for yourself is how I learn best."