SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Incoming South Plainfield High School senior Emma Morin, 17, was recently one of only 60 students from the Garden State to take part in the 37th annual New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences (NJGSS). 

Offered through Drew University, NJGSS is a 'very prestigious program for rising high school seniors.' To be eligible, one must live in New Jersey and be nominated by their schools; applications, including letters of recommendation, are due in the fall of a student's junior year for participation in the program the following summer. 

Morin, a member of the Class of 2021, was selected from a pool of eligible students and nominated by guidance counselor Dr. Mylissa Bauman and application submitted along with a letter of recommendation from SPHS teacher Kathleen Benton. 

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"Emma is an amazing student. She is one of the most talented, mature, and intelligent students I have ever encountered," said Benton, who had Morin in her honors biology class freshman year and her bioinformatics research class last year. "New Jersey Governor's School in the Sciences is very, very difficult to get into and I just knew she had what it takes. She never accepted less than complete understanding of every topic introduced inside the classroom and during enrichment."

Through NJGSS, the goal is to broaden a scholars appreciation and knowledge of science through exposure to a range of scientific topics and scientists as well as introduce scientific research via hands-on research experience in different areas of science and mathematics, including neurobiology, cell biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, anthropology. 

Run by science faculty from Drew and other local colleges and high schools, along with experts in industrial and governmental laboratories, NJGSS is typically a three-week residential program held on the college's Madison, NJ campus. However, due to the current health care situation, this year's program took place completely online.

"This was the first year that the program ran completely online, but the rigor and diversity of coursework was expertly maintained," Morin told TAPinto South Plainfield.

Morin was able to select three out of six courses to attend and from July 12 through Aug. 1, attended special relativity, molecular orbital theory, and human evolution classes five days a week for four hours each day. Over the three-week period, she also spent three hours four days a week collaborating with a group of 12 other NJGSS participants to research and, ultimately, develop a 20-page report on how different groups of people respond to cognitive illusions - visual and verbal tricks played on the mind.

"The program was both academically challenging and socially enriching and provided me the opportunity to work with accomplished Drew University professors and to connect with peers equally as passionate about the sciences as I am," Morin, who is still unsure where she will attend school in the fall 2021 but knows she wants to be a research scientist with a focus in chemistry. 

"This program really exposed me to a diverse array of the sciences and, more than anything, helped me narrow down what I was really interested in," she said, adding, "It was really the chemistry [course] that I enjoyed the most."

"She is destined for greatness and is certain to change the world for the better," said Benton. 

Morin added that she is 'grateful' to the guidance department and staff at SPHS for their nomination, support, and the opportunity to take part in the NJGSS program. "This is a wonderful, comprehensive program and something I feel other STEM-oriented students in South Plainfield should know about," said Morin, adding, "I am looking forward to bringing all I have learned back to SPHS to share with my peers this school year."

For more information on the New Jersey Governor's School in the Sciences program, visit http://www.drew.edu/governors-school/.

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