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Two LI students win Rising Scientist Awards

Elizabeth Yaboni, a senior at Smithtown High School

Elizabeth Yaboni, a senior at Smithtown High School West, is one of five students from the New York metro area to receive a Rising Scientist Award from the Child Mind Institute. Credit: Smithtown Central School District

Two Long Island students were among five high schoolers from the tri-state area to receive this year's Rising Scientist Awards from the Child Mind Institute.

David Frank, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, and Elizabeth Yaboni, a senior at Smithtown High School West, won the awards for demonstrating "extraordinary promise in research," the nonprofit said.

They received $2,000 college scholarships and presented their research last month at the institute's On the Shoulders of Giants Scientific Symposium.

"We are delighted to honor these inspiring, young scientists who are well on their way to joining the ranks of the next generation of researchers," said the institute's president, Harold Koplewicz.

Frank, 17, examined how providing souvenir playing cards affects a restaurant magician's tips, finding that more frequent and larger tips were given if customers were left with a memento.  

"From a more practical standpoint, my findings imply that workers in different areas of the service industry should consider giving gifts as a means of increasing their tips," Frank said.

Yaboni, 16, used the organism nematostella to explore how the gut microbiome impacts the nervous system. She worked with Lara Cain, a senior at Smithtown High School East. 

"We found that after altering the microbiome with antibiotics, the peristaltic rate decreased significantly," Yaboni said. 

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