Brookline High School
Brookline, MA

Ali Rahnavard
Medical and Population Genetics

Enrico applied to the Broad Summer Scholars Program to get a better understanding of how science is conducted in the real world, where the answers are unknown and there are no textbook-guided investigations. He wanted to get a sense for if he could see himself in this type of profession in the future.

Enrico’s project involved analyzing DNA from healthy human microbial samples to figure out what proteins these communities of small organisms are generating and in what proportions. Recent discoveries have shown the human microbiome to be much more vast than anyone had previously imagined, and researchers are beginning to appreciate all of the useful things these microbes do for us and how they can cause or prevent disease. Enrico’s work contributed to building a framework for future studies of the microbiome.

Enrico’s favorite thing about working at the Broad was the feeling that his work would truly have an impact on future scientific research. Often he and his mentors were puzzled by various findings, and when that happened he knew he was having an authentic science experience. His time at the Broad led him to understand the importance of computer science for understanding the vast amounts of data involved in biology. “Computing can tie together results of experiments from around the world and try to extract meaning from comparisons between them, meaning that would otherwise be hidden from us,” said Enrico. He’s now interested in possibly pursuing a computer science major in college.