Harlem Children’s Society Excels with Dr.
“We are all made of genes [and like genes] we cannot
be appropriately expressed without the right environment,” muses
Dr. Sat Bhattacharya, founder of the Harlem Children’s
Society, a nonprofit dedicated to providing students from under-resourced
and under-represented communities with the opportunity to explore
Addressing a crowd of high school students from inner-city
neighborhoods, nationwide, Dr. Bhattacharya welcomed the fledgling
scientists to the summer internship program with the hope and
enthusiasm of a proud father. In fact, out of the 60
Bhattacharya personally chose each intern through a grueling
interview and selection process.
Since its inception in 2000, Harlem Children’s Society’s
Experiment with a Dream program has grown to include more than
100 students from over 34 high schools. Student interns are
paired with some of the best researchers in their fields and
have the opportunity to work in various research institutions
throughout New York City. All students receive a stipend for
their summer research.
Orientation kicks off the summer internship program and weekly
lecture series where students present their research and are
addressed by scientific experts. Individually designed projects
give students an understanding of the importance of scientific
inquiry as they develop presentation, research and laboratory
skills. This year the program has expanded to allow past students
who have graduated from high school but are still pursuing
their research in college to participate.
“We want to help create a dream in the hearts and minds
for a more responsible community and a better tomorrow,” says
Dr. Bhattacharya. “Our interns have impressed us with
their enthusiasm and their desire to succeed.”
Stressing the need for scientists in state legislature, keynote
speaker Senator Liz Krueger, encouraged the “technology
generation” to pursue scientific study and delineated
its implications for public policy. “The world’s
future is determined by the talent of young people moving into
these fields and solving the problems we face. You are the
future of this society,” said Senator Krueger.
“To be a freshman here is truly an accomplishment,” said
Dr. Judith Rankin, Director of Science, New York City Department
of Education. She urged students to embrace their experiences
regardless of what field they choose to enter in the future.
“The most important thing about science is asking questions,” says
Rankin. The biggest thing we are trying to get our students
to understand is how to ask questions because when scientists
study issues, they discuss them and formulate questions before
even forming a hypothesis, she states.
Paolo Lizano is a seasoned researcher thanks to the Harlem
Children’s Society. A senior at Rutgers University, he
has been working with Dr. Bhattacharya since 2000 as one of
the program’s first students. “It was an excellent
experience,” said Lizano. “It opened me up to the
field of cancer research which is something that I eventually
want to go into.” Lizano is currently applying to an
MD/PHD program in New Jersey while continuing his research.
A sense of family exists among the students, both old and
new, united in their passion for science. Once they are in
the program, we never leave them and many students return,
says Dr. Bhattacharya.
In the fall, students will host a science street fair and
poster competition where they will bring the science they have
learned directly to their community. “Not everybody can
be a doctor or a scientist or an engineer,” says Dr.
Bhattacharya, “but the most important thing is to create
an awareness of issues of science, medicine, and technology
so that people can talk about them normally and so that we
do not endanger ourselves and are able to serve the next generation.”#