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Intel Semifinalist: Ross Iscowitz

Iscowitz is one of Kennedy's three Intel semifinalists.

As if valedictorian, volunteer at Sibs Place and founder of Tutors For a Cure wasn't enough, Kennedy High School student Ross Iscowitz can now add Intel semifinalist to his resume.

"It's unbelievable," Iscowitz told Patch. "It's an indescribable, shocking feeling."

The purpose of Iscowitz's project, A Behavorial Analysis of Auditory Decision-Making in Mice, was to study and stabilize decision making in mice to determine if mice were an ideal species to use for neurological investigation.

The mice received auditory stimuli from the left or right side and had to choose between the nose pokes on those sides to get a water reward.

Iscowitz worked with the lab in Cold Spring Harbor and the project took him about one year to complete, including prep time.

His favorite part about the project, he said, was the realization that it was working. "When I looked at all of the points in the graph from day five to day 25 and saw that the mice were able to learn and were taking a longer time responding, it was great," he said.

Although this project was not without challenges for the whiz kid. His first idea was not able to be completed because the mice he was given to work with weren't trained enough.

But, that didn't stop him. With the encouragement of instructor Barbara Frank and the other students in Kennedy's ASR program, Iscowitz was able to see it through.

"I am hoping that this project will help scientists better understand brain cues and will be able to help them understand things like Austim better," he said.

And if he is able to take it all the way, the $100,000 prize money would not go to waste.

"I would go on a nice, long vacation and buy my parents some things for all the time they spent driving me back and forth," he said.

Iscowitz will be attending the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall and hopes to study business.

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