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Sammie ’20 presents honors research at APA academic conference

Sammie ’20 is studying the effect of gun ownership during adolescence on students’ mental health through Marlborough’s Honors Research in Social Sciences Program. Sammie evaluated individual students’ access to guns and the effect on that student’s mental health, as well as evaluating the mental health outcomes of individual students based on the percentage of their classmates who had access to firearms. Sammie’s research found that regardless of the percentage of students in a school with gun access, personal gun access was associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and perceiving school as being unsafe. 

The Honors Research Program partners students with professors at local universities who serve as mentors for the student’s research. Sammie’s mentor, Dr. Rebecca Dudovitz, professor of General Pediatrics at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, suggested she submit an abstract to the Academic Pediatric Association’s (APA) regional meeting in Monterey. The APA is comprised of pediatric researchers from the western United States who hear research presentations and share research ideas and advice.

Sammie was the only high school student selected to give an oral presentation about her findings to scientists and doctors at the conference on Jan. 27. She underwent a rigorous selection process which involved her research being evaluated by a review panel of APA members. 

“I was really nervous at first because I’d never presented at a meeting with real professionals and real scientists before,” Sammie said. “But once I had put together my presentation and run through my script a few times, I was a lot less nervous because I knew I was prepared.”

Sammie says that the APA conference allowed her to strengthen her presentation skills for Marlborough and beyond.

“I’ve submitted my abstract to a bigger meeting, so we’ll wait and see if I get a poster or presentation there. I think the APA presentation gave me more confidence going forward in giving presentations, and I think it’s helped prepare me for the presentation at Marlborough in the spring,” Sammie said.

Sammie was recently selected to give a presentation on her research at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, a national medical conference taking place on Monday, April 29 in Baltimore, Maryland.