RANDOLPH, NJ - Twin sisters and Randolph High School students, Jacqueline and Josephine Wu, published their research “Frequency of Large Fractional Target Motions During Spine Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy” in the Practical Radiation Oncology (PRO), an official journal of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). Patient motion increases the possibility of paralysis since the dose could be aimed at another area after a shift, an intervention, and potentially sever the spine. The study evaluated the efficacy of patient immobilization and ExacTrac imaging-guided Spine SBRT by analyzing spinal patients’ movements during their treatments.

They were inspired to do the research for different reasons but found commonality in their curiosity. Jacqueline has ambitions to pursue a career pathway in this line of research. “I want to go into the medical field and I wanted to see what kinds of research I could do and what I could ultimately explore.” Josephine on the other hand is just naturally curious. She thought that pursuing this research could be an area where she could expand and grow personally. “I consider myself to be a “humanities” person, I never realized that I was limiting myself to specific fields.” The opportunity to conduct this research allowed Josephine to study human anatomy which has always interested her.

Jacqueline and Josephine started their research in the summer of 2017 at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center at New York, NY under the Laughlin Medical Physics Internship. They collaborated with physicists and physicians on a research project called “Intrafractional target motion during spinal stereotactic body radiation therapy,” analyzing thousands of patient records for success rates of immobilization techniques. Their research, understandably, was incredibly difficult. “Analyzing the data from 1,000+ patients was tedious. Sometimes I wouldn’t pay attention and later would realize we had made a mistake. We would have to sift back to find the error, correct it, and move on,” Josephine said. Jacqueline added to the sentiment. “While research is fun, not all research is fun. You have to get through the tough things because the end result is worth it. Seeing the outcome of our research made it all worthwhile.”

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They presented the results at the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (IEEE-EMBS) International Conference in Las Vegas on March 4-7, 2018. Subsequently, they submitted the manuscript to the PRO journal for consideration of publication. After two rounds of peer-review, the paper was accepted for publication.

They both learned many things from the experience. Josephine learned how to collaborate closely with others and how to delegate tasks to ensure their research stayed on schedule. Jacqueline learned more about pathways she may ultimately want to pursue. She intends to pursue similar research in the future.

In addition to being published researchers, both are incredibly accomplished at Randolph High School. They are heavily involved in the district’s music program as they are both in arietta select ensemble and chamber strings. They are both affiliated with various honors groups including english, math, science, and social studies honor societies. Jacqueline specifically has a tremendous passion for mathematics and science. She loves competing on Science Olympiad as well as the district’s Math League. Josephine enjoys giving back as she frequently tutors other students at other schools. They are also avid readers. Jacqueline’s favorite, Wide Sargasso Sea, inspired her to “pursue creative writing as a means of social justice.” Josephine’s favorite, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, was a unique story that she admired for its surrealism.

Both credit their education at Randolph for their success and are inspired by their teachers. “The entire staff is so helpful and you can talk to them outside of class at any time,” Josephine added. “Everyone is so supportive and I just love all of my teachers.” Jacqueline cited Mrs. Kessell, english teacher, and Mr. Douglas, math teacher, for helping her to pursue her goals. “They maintain a high level of both fun and rigor. It’s great to be able to go to class where you can be challenged and also supported. They have inspired me to pursue my dreams which includes majoring in multiple studies.” Both cited their parents as being key contributors to their success as people and for instilling the right values in them. “They inspire us to work hard and never give up on our goals,” Josephine said.

Jacqueline intends to enroll pre-med with intentions to pursue molecular biology, biochemistry, and english. She is not afraid to double major as she has many passions she would like to pursue. Josephine would like to pursue a degree in history, east asian studies or medieval studies. She believes she will one day end up in academia and would love to conduct historical research. They shared their dream schools with us, but were hesitant to share their plans publicly. Although we have confidence that they will get into the schools of their choice, we respect and wish them well as they apply to universities over the next year. We know that the sky is the limit and that they will achieve whatever goal they wish to achieve.

Randolph is incredibly proud of Josephine and Jacqueline’s hard work inside and outside of the classroom. We hope that their research can be used to advance further exploration in the field of oncology and we know that they will both be successful personally and professionally in life.