Rockefeller University SMART Team Program

Ted ScovellSMART Team Program Director:

Ted Scovell
212 327-7418

A Little History...

The SMART Team program at Rockefeller began in an informal way when Tommie Hata — a high school teacher at the Pingry School in New Jersey and a participant in Bonnie Kaiser’s outreach program at Rockefeller — attended a summer course at the MSOE Center for BioMolecular Modeling in Milwaukee. Tommie began a series of RNA Polymerase modeling projects during the first summer in Milwaukee…that led to the first Pingry SMART Team project with Richard Ebright at Rutgers, and then a very successful SMART Team project with Seth Darst’s lab at Rockefeller. This interaction resulted in two additional teachers from Bonnie’s program — Ted Scovell and Sherlyne Gilles — participating in the CBM’s summer modeling workshop, and then mentoring a SMART Team at Rockefeller. Allison Granberry, a teacher at Hostos-Lincoln Academy, has also participated in the CBM’s summer modeling workshops and mentored SMART Teams at Rockefeller.

Other people at Rockefeller who have played important roles in the development of the SMART Team program include:

  • Lars Westblade…then a post-doc in Seth Darst’s lab
  • Vince Fischetti…who hosted a second Pingry SMART Team with Tommie Hata in 2007-2008
  • Ray Schuch…a post-doc in Vince Fischetti’s lab
  • Barry Coller…who has hosted SMART Teams from Ebbets Field Middle School (Sherlyne Gilles) and Hostos-Lincoln Academy School (Allison Granberry)
  • Rod MacKinnon…who has hosted a SMART Team from Friends Seminary (Ted Scovell)

Program Highlights

Although several SMART Teams have worked with Rockefeller faculty over the past 5 years, this is the first year of a NYC SMART Team hub. We have three teams this year (The Dalton School, Manhattan Hunter Science High School, and the Hostos-Lincoln Academy).

We will be hosting a summer Molecular Modeling class for around 12 teachers. Of that group, we hope to enlist 4 teachers to run SMART Teams in 2010-2011.

Not much to report so far this year other than at both Dalton and Hunter we tried to limit the team to 7 students, but because of so much interest, we ended up with about 15 in each.

Last year’s Friends Seminary Team sent 2 students to the ASBMB conference in New Orleans. Before the conference, they spent hours with Rod MacKinnon going over the fine details of 3 10 helices, the directionality of the channel in the voltage gated potassium channel, and how a phenylalanine residue acts like a light switch.

When the SMART Team delivered the physical model to Rod MacKinnon, even though he desperately needed to get back to work, he was so enraptured with it that he instead called the entire lab over to marvel at it.

In 2008-2009, Friends Seminary worked with Seth Darst on Sigma-28. At the unveiling of the physical model, he gave every member of the Team a pocket protector as part of a rite to ordain them into science nerddom.

Current SMART Teams

The Dalton School
Research Mentor: Peter Palese, Mount Sinai Medical School
Protein: Influenza Hemagglutinin

The Manhattan Hunter Science High School
Research Mentor: Nancy Greenbaum, Hunter College
Protein: Telomerase

The Hostos-Lincoln Academy
Research Mentor: Lars Westblade, Touro and Joel Sussman, Weizmann Institute of Science
Protein: Acetylcholinesterase

Past SMART Teams

Pingry (teacher — Tommie Hata)…with Seth Darst
Pingry (teacher — Tommie Hata)…with Vince Fischetti
Friends Seminary (teacher — Ted Scovell)…with Seth Darst
Friends Seminary (teacher — Ted Scovell)…with Rod MacKinnon
Ebbets Field Middle School (teacher — Sherlyne Gilles)…with Barry Coller
Hostas High School (teacher — Allison Granberry)…with Barry Coller