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Blades Of Grass

Siemens Science Semifinalist

Suburbanites love their lush green lawns. Whether to pass the football over, run through in bare feet, or simply laid as a welcoming carpet before colorful flower beds ringing home and property, lawn grass is king in the ‘burbs.

Problem is, the use of fertilizers that feed those verdant lawns adds pollutants to the environment. To address the problem, one high school research student imagined a more natural way to dress a property using native grasses that perform double-duty as filters for fertilizer and road salt residues.

Garden City High School senior Michael Cassano began his work with grasses native to his own Long Island backyard, seeking to define a solution to the chemical imbalances wrought by hundreds of well-intended homeowners and road crews. In 2010, Cassano joined the Friends of Hempstead Plains (www.friendsofhp.org), an organization formed in 2001 “dedicated to the perpetual preservation, restoration and management of the site through scientific research and education.” The Friends acquired a two-acre parcel of preserved land that is a tiny remnant of a once vast inland prairie called the Hempstead Plains. It contains native plants, small mammals, birds, and insects, and served as the center of the nascent environmentalist’s field work.

The young naturalist developed a research project with Dr. Steven Gordon, the high school’s science research teacher, based on his quest to seek an alternative to lawn grasses. Ultimately, these findings led him to be selected as a finalist in the 2012 Museum of Natural History Young Naturalist Awards. “Winning an award based on work done in my high school lab was very rewarding, but I wanted to go to the next level and do research in a professional lab.”

He subsequently took that next step by studying a flowering plant: Agalinis acuta, the only federally-endangered plant species in New York. He set out to learn everything he could about the endangered plant, right down to its DNA sequencing. The Garden City resident took a plant genomics course offered at Cold Spring Harbor DNA Learning Center, where he collaborated with plant geneticist Dr. Bruce Nash who supervised his use of lab equipment to further his research. To unravel the mystery of what the host plant species was, he took samples to Cold Spring Harbor Lab and, by isolating the plants’ DNA, identified the endangered plant as Sorghustrum nutans (Indian Grass).For his efforts and discovery, Michael Cassano was named a 2013 Siemens Competition in Math Science and Technology National Semifinalist. “A record number of submissions were entered this year, 1,973 projects, comprising 2,440 of the top students in the United States,” commented Dr. Gordon. “Of this pool, only 238 projects, 12 percent were chosen as National Semifinalists. Michael’s project involved years of fieldwork with the Friends of the Hempstead Plains. It’s nice to see all of his hard work paying off!”

Moving forward, the tiny remnant of the Hempstead Plains will not only be the New York State nursery for Agalinis and its Indian Grass host, but will also include a new Education and Research Center, which, thanks to Cassano, will sport a “green roof” of grasses the young researcher grew for his Eagle Scout project.

- Submitted by Garden City Public Schools

News

North Shore-LIJ’s Cushing Neuroscience Institute (CNI) recently announced that Garden City resident Richard E. Temes, MD, MS, has been appointed director of the Center for Neurocritical Care at North Shore University Hospital and assistant professor of neurology, neurological surgery and internal medicine at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.

“Dr. Temes is a nationally recognized leader in neurocritical care and we are delighted to have him on board to spearhead our efforts in further expanding the neurocritical care services program,” said Raj K. Narayan, MD, chair of neurosurgery at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center and CNI’s director. For the past seven years, Dr. Temes served as director of the neurocritical care program he founded at Rush Medical Center in Chicago, Ill. He also served as the hospital’s medical director of the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit and as director of the Therapeutic Hypothermia Service. Under Dr. Temes’ leadership, he established Rush’s neurological emergencies transfer center, which grew to transfer 1,200 patients annually from over 30 institutions throughout southern Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and western Michigan.

‘Landscape-altering’ bug creeping north

It’s a cute little ‘bug.’ What it represents, however, is anything but cute.

An unusual-looking Volkswagen is toodling around Long Island this month. Painted to resemble the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), the VW Beetle is part of efforts by the US Department of Agriculture to eliminate the pest, which can destroy 70 percent of an area’s tree canopy, according to the agency. Initially, officials held hope for complete eradication from about 23 square miles of the Island designated as infested or at risk by 2016. Instead, this “landcape-altering pest” is spreading.


Sports

Garden City falls to Brentwood

after beating Farmingdale

The Farmingdale Baseball League recently capped off its fourth annual 9/11 baseball tournament with a series of championship games, to ultimately determine which Long Island town reigns supreme. On Aug. 16, teams from 8U to 14U fought tooth and nail for the ultimate prize.

One of the most exciting games was the evening 14U championship match-up between the Garden City Warriors and Brentwood Braves.

Fall Roller Hockey Programs Announced

The Garden City Recreation and Parks Department will once again offer various roller hockey programs this fall for both youth & adults who reside in the Inc. Village of Garden City. Whether you played in the past or looking to get involved, there is no better time to sign up and experience all the fun. All programs take place at the roller rink located at Community Park. Please note at this time, the recreation department is just announcing its programs. Fees and registration information will be announced at a later date.

This season, the roller hockey programs are broken down into grades. Please pay careful attention as grades and dates/times have changed:


Calendar

Alice in Nanoland

Thursday, August 28

Nature’s Nighttime Noises

Saturday, August 30

Art With A French Twist

Thursday, September 11



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com