Julia Savino. 

Julia Savino.  Credit: Smithtown Central School Distric

A Smithtown student is one of five high schoolers nationwide recognized for their promise as a future scientist in the fields of neuroscience and child mental health.

Julia Savino, a senior at Smithtown High School West, has been named a 2020 Rising Scientist by the Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders.

Savino's research explored the mechanism by which N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activation causes a cascade of events that result in excitotoxicity. She studied the topic over the course of two years and used the model organism Nematostella vectensis.

For winning, she was awarded a $2,000 scholarship.

"My brother Joe has autism, so that's kind of sparked my interest in this whole brain thing," said Savino, 17, who was nominated for the award by Smithtown West research coordinator Joanne Figueiredo. "This award means a lot; it shows that you can be passionate about something and still have an impact on others."

Savino is also president of her school's Interact Club and a member of the girls lacrosse team, Best Buddies Club and the Math, Italian and Social Studies honor societies.

In addition, she is one of nine senior leaders on Long Island for the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, a leadership program coordinated by the Rotary Clubs.


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