Elisheva Elbaz and Aviva Cantor have a lot in common. Both are 20-year-old undergraduates deeply involved in science programs at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women in New York. Both are graduates of Bruriah High School for Girls, part of the Jewish Educational Center network in Elizabeth. And both are spending this summer engaged in highly specialized studies at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel.
As two of 23 undergraduates from Yeshiva and Stern, they are working with some of Israel’s top scientists and scholars in a seven-week Summer Science Research Internship program sponsored by BIU and YU.
Elbaz is working at Bar-Ilan’s biomedical engineering department, studying gold nanoparticles and their application to cancer patients.
“The eventual goal is to be able to use these gold nanoparticles to detect the border of tumors in order to be able to accurately remove them,” she wrote in a July 15 e-mail to NJ Jewish News. The technique “is less invasive than CAT scans” in determining cancer treatments.
To Elbaz, her hands-on work with professors and graduate students “is a great way to see some of the research that is done in the field.”
And, she noted, “there are a lot of women in my lab, which I find very encouraging, and they are great role models for me, a woman going into science. “
After Elbaz returns home to Highland Park at the end of August she will enter her senior year at Stern as a physical sciences major in pursuit of her dream to become a biomedical engineer.
Cantor, a psychology major, is working at Bar-Ilan’s Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center on a project to study the connections between brain waves and facial expressions of veterans of the Israel Defense Forces.
The aim of the research is to enable soldiers to protect themselves from unwanted self-revelation in possibly stressful situations.
“It allows us to see where facial expressions occur in the brain and how a happy expression compares to a sad expression or a flat expression,” she told NJJN in a June 13 phone call from the Bar-Ilan campus.
Cantor said she works with six PhD students and eight master’s degree students studying a subject called “event-related potential.”
Cantor, from Hillside, will return to her junior year at Stern.
“I may go to medical school when I graduate from Stern because I want to go into psychiatry. Or I may want to go into neuroscience. This opportunity is incredible,” she said.
A key benefit for Cantor is that her internship “combines a lot of different sciences and allows me to see connections with other scientific disciplines,” including math and computer science along with psychology and biology.
“You can learn things out of a textbook, and read about a study somebody did 10 years ago, but when you are in a lab and see the process of actually collecting and interpreting data, it gives you a better sense of what you are studying,” she said. “The process of writing a study takes a long time, and hopefully I will be able to continue this when I get home.”