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Ella Feiner

 “If you know the question, you know half.” This quote has inspired Ella in her approach to understanding the world around her. As a young girl growing up in Ridgewood, New Jersey, Ella’s intense curiosity and passion for learning were evident from an early age. She loved experimenting in the kitchen and exploring nature during weekend hikes with her family, and she has always been a voracious reader.  

As a student at the Horace Mann School in New York City, her interest in science has deepened. Her academic work, success in Science Olympiad, and participation in the Columbia Science Honors Program earned her acceptance into the Simons Summer Research Program at Stony Brook University. During her seven week fellowship, Ella explored the relationship between cancer and the cell cycle. Studies suggest that metastasis, the spread of cancer from its place of origin, may only be possible when cellular division ceases during periods of cell cycle arrest, which can occur during treatment with certain cancer drugs. 

To explore this, Ella adapted a special cell-cycle sensor to examine the effect of forced cycle arrest on the development of zebrafish embryos treated with cancer drugs. During early embryonic development, primitive structures are naturally formed by invading cells in an arrested state. Ella observed that inducing cell cycle arrest led more cells to become invasive, supporting a relationship between cell cycle arrest and metastasis. During her time in the lab, she learned how to frame questions, honed her bench techniques and perhaps most importantly came to appreciate the importance of collaboration in scientific advancement. 

Ella applies her keen intellect to both the sciences and the humanities. A teacher commented “She is profoundly attuned to the world and I have repeatedly marveled at her deep consideration of complex issues both in and out of class. There are people who can research deeply and others who can write elegantly, but when someone combines both of those qualities - as Ella does - the results are astounding.”

Ella has had an action-packed senior year of high school, with her research being recognized by the Siemens Foundation, the Regeneron Science Talent Search and the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). As a Regeneron finalist, she spent seven days in Washington, DC with forty peers exchanging ideas and aspirations. Her fellow finalists elected her the winner of the Glenn T. Seaborg Award for commitment to scientific cooperation and communication. Next month, she will attend the ISEF finals week in Pittsburgh. 

When not in the lab or presenting at a science fair, Ella is busy leading her school’s debate team as they travel to tournaments around the country. In addition to mentoring the underclassman on her team, she has spent three years coaching a middle school debate team at a neighboring Bronx school. She is an accomplished pianist, a varsity swimmer and she still loves to hike, read and cook! She believes that many of life’s biggest questions are solved at the intersection of disciplines and in that vein, she is looking forward to continuing her studies at Princeton in the fall.