Superintendent’s Spotlight: Courtney Evans


Superintendent’s Spotlight: Courtney Evans

May 10, 2023

WVHS senior Courtney Evans recently committed to Quinnipiac University, where she will be majoring in biology, the next step toward her ultimate goal of a career in dermatology.

“I’ve just always been intrigued by science and cells and biology, and I just think that the skin is super interesting,” said Courtney. “And, it’s a great profession for the work/life balance it seems to offer.”

Courtney will be entering Quinnipiac’s “3+1” degree program for molecular and cellular biology, which means she will achieve her BA in her first three years and MA in her fourth year.

“And the masters in molecular and cellular biology would help me get into med school,” she explained.

If that sounds like a lot, it is, but it’s exactly the type of ambitious path Courtney has always pursued as a way to challenge herself. The National Honor Society member, perennial Honor Roll student, and two-time NY State Public High School Athletics Association Scholar-Athlete honoree has also spent this year and the two previous years enrolled in one of the most rigorous academic programs that WVHS offers, the Science Research Project program. The course is offered in partnership with SUNY Albany.

Science Research students select and investigate topics of their own interest. They develop skills in research protocol by reading and summarizing peer-reviewed articles, analyzing professional scientific papers, working alongside professional mentors to conduct original research, all while maintaining professional laboratory notebooks and building their scientific portfolio.

For her first two years of the program, Courtney focused on stem cells and skin, and worked with Dr. George Murphy from Harvard. When Dr. Murphy’s own research pulled him away, Courtney took things in stride and course corrected.

“It was a lot of work; a lot of change. But, right now I’m almost done with my project and it’s on gut microbiota and how it affects health span,” said Courtney, adding that the topic isn’t as different from her original area of study as it may sound. “The cells of the gut and the skin are very similar,” she explained. “They’re both epithelial cells, so before I was studying what affects the skin and now I’m studying what affects the gut; it’s still cell-related.”

With the change in topic, Courtney had to revisit some of the early groundwork she’d put down already, and began working with a new mentor, Dr. Daniel Coleman from Emory University. The Science Research program culminates in a symposium in June, and Courtney is in the home stretch with her project. She gathered data from professional papers to use in her personal research and is finishing up with data extraction.

“So, I’ve almost collected all my data and I’m writing the final paper for the course,” she said with excitement. “I probably should have taken it a little easier for my senior year, but I’m also taking AP government, college statistics — which actually is helping with my science research data – honors physics, AP language and composition. Oh, and culinary, for a little fun.”

Courtney said she’s looking forward to wrapping up her senior year with prom, the senior trip to Seaside, and other social events like the senior picnic.

“But not my AP tests next week,” she added with a laugh, adding how important she thinks it is to maintain a healthy life balance and identify what’s important to you.

“Know what you think is important and make sure you value it,” are her words of wisdom for younger students. “When you figure out what matters to you and make sure that’s going well, so many other things will fall into place.”


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