Palmetto High School senior Zoe Cosner has accumulated about 1,400 hours of community service. Many of the hours come from spending time in the lab at the University of Miami over two summers researching viruses
“The first summer I worked as part of a group and the second summer I did my part of the project,” Cosner says. “The first year we looked at the protein interaction between e coli and a virus that affects e coli called lambda. If we know what proteins are responsible for viral protein reactions, we can study viruses that are human specific in non-human cells.”
She worked at the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry lab with Dr. Richard Myers.
“It’s led me to decide that my future will be in biochemistry,” she says.
She found Dr. Myers through her father, who works for the UM and knew Dr. Myers.
Cosner came away from the experience realizing that no matter how smart you think you are, you can always learn a lot more.
“I learned that teamwork makes a difference,” she says. “Even if you take charge and become a leader, you still need to rely on everyone else in your group. And I learned if at first you don’t succeed, then try again because it will probably work out.”
At Palmetto, Cosner is a member of the Science National Honor Society and Science Competitors Club.
“Over the course of three years, I have competed in every science competition that we go to,” she says. “I’m currently the president of Science NHS and Competitors.”
Cosner has participated in the Envirothon, going to regionals for three years and to states twice as the soils expert.
“The first time I went my team got third place. The second time, we didn’t place overall, but we got first place for soils category,” she says. “I’ve also done Chemathon where we have won things. For the Chemistry One section, we won third place overall when I was a sophomore.”
Cosner is also in Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society. She has competed in the Mu Alpha Theta contests and is vice president of competitions for the club. She also is vice president of service for the Social Science National Honor Society and a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society.
Even with that busy schedule, she managed to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award. For that project, she worked with the Holtz Children’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
“I created 1,000 busy bags,” she says. “Five hundred for the age group 5-11 and another 500 for the age group 12 and up.”
The bags included an activity book that she created with puzzles and illustrations. It also included a tip sheet for parents. The tip sheet for the 12-and-up group urged the children to speak up about their treatment as patients and to pay attention to what pills they are being given and what that’s going on with them
“The History Channel donated notebooks, DVDs and books, and Burger King donated toys. I used money that I got from selling Girl Scout cookies to print the books. We put them in big gallon Ziploc bags.”
Cosner decided to work on the project after visiting a child life specialist at the hospital.
“She told me some of the things they needed,” Cosner says. “The nurses were overworked and didn’t have time to open the playrooms.”
The project took a year and a half to complete.
For college, Cosner is considering attending Brown University, Duke and Washington University. She plans to major in Biochemistry.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld