SHS senior presents at distinguished science-driven convention

Samantha Phillips traveled to Boston, Mass. to share her AP Research project from 2021-2022 school year 

By Dahlia Wechsler, STAFF WRITER
Senior Samantha Philips poses with her AP Research Project in Boston, Mass. Source: Dr. Nicole Soucy

On Oct. 21, Sanford High School student, Samantha Phillips, presented at the Northeast Regional Chapter of the Society of Toxicology in Boston, Mass. with her mentor, Dr. Nicole Soucy, Director of Toxicology and Biocompatibility at Boston Scientific.

According to the website, the Chapter strives “to promote continued learning and scientific excellence.”

At the end of 2020, during her junior year, Phillips began her work on an AP research project and connected with Soucy through the help of her math teacher, Herb Stitson.

“Samantha is by far the most impressive student I have ever mentored in the 20+ years I have been engaged in STEM outreach,” said Dr. Soucy.

Set in the back of a chemistry classroom, Phillips conducted her research on rodents, studying the effects of food dye consumption on their thinking process. The research was inspired by the U.S.’s lack of regulations for Yellow Dye #6 and the inclusion of artificial colorants in everyday food items, especially those marketed to children. 

“There really wasn’t a lot of research on this particular dye, whereas there was on some of the other dyes,” Phillips said, “So, I just wanted to figure out what effects that dye had on learning and memory.” 

With the completion of her research project and support from Soucy, Phillips entered and was accepted into the Northeast Regional Chapter of Toxicology. The conference is a prestigious science-focused convention of undergraduates, graduates and professors. Phillips presented her research poster during the undergraduate research portion of the conference. She was the only high schooler to present.

 “Her maturity and keen intellect allowed her to converse with undergraduate and graduate students as well as professors and other professional scientists alike,” Soucy remarked.  

Raised in rural southern Maine, Phillips was homeschooled until she reached seventh grade when she transferred to the public school system. Phillips is ranked first in her class, holds a spot on the varsity cheerleading team, is the treasurer of the National Honors Society and is a Key Club officer. 

After high school, Phillips plans to major in chemical or bioengineering, directing her focus on the development of new medical devices, with a focus on improving quality of life.

“I would always recommend that people take advantage of whatever opportunity is available to them,” Phillips remarked, “because you never know what you’re going to learn from it, or who you can meet as a result of it.”

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