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Spotlight on Excellence: Dr. Robinson Brings College-Level Research to Saddle River Day Students

Spotlight on Excellence: Dr. Robinson Brings College-Level Research to Saddle River Day Students, Bergen County Moms

Science Department Chair, Dr. Vanessa Robinson exemplifies a philosophy of education that focuses on empowerment and self-sufficiency. Spend a few minutes with her, and you'll see that she's dedicated to teaching with an emphasis on long-term learning and growth, utilizing her own research project on fruit flies as her teaching tools.

For the past several summers, Dr. Robinson has offered students a real world laboratory research experience by allowing them to assist in her study of the molecular impacts of social isolation on fruit flies. This year, that summer class has evolved into a year-long upper level science course during which students, working within the realm of sleep, circadian rhythms, the microbiome, immunity, and metabolism, and still working with fruit flies as their test subjects, and will have the opportunity to discern their own research question, design a set of experiments to test their hypothesis, evaluate their conclusions, and present their findings at the end of the year.

By basing the class format on the real process a graduate student would go through to begin a research project, Dr. Robinson is able to give her students – all of whom have either taken or are currently taking AP Biology – exposure to the process they will encounter in college and later, as research professionals. Students will be required to regularly present their progress during lab meetings, demonstrating the data they’ve collected, and soliciting feedback from their classmates. Dr. Robinson is assisted in this class by a current 5th year PhD student in her former lab at Columbia who will provide students with access to different fruit fly mutants to utilize in their experiments.

But the most important thing that the students in Dr. Robinson’s class will take away from this year will be a head start on most of their future classmates with regard to an understanding of how research works. The Saddle River Day School students who complete this class will enter college with the ability to identify the research projects that align with their interests, and the credibility and learned experience to immediately make them valuable members of any research team. The knowledge of how to navigate academia will enable them to better set themselves on a path to graduate school and, eventually, into a doctoral degree program.

For her part, Dr. Robinson loves working with high school students because they’re curious, open to learning and instruction, and fearless when it comes to advancing hypotheses and interrogating new ideas. In particular, she loves working with the Saddle River Day School students because the model at SRDS is one of academic discovery where scholars are encouraged to challenge themselves, work to the best of their ability, expose themselves to new experiences, and pursue learning for the sake of knowledge rather than just achievement. She regularly reminds her students that where they attend college doesn’t matter as much as what they do once they get there. With her guidance, Saddle River Day students are well positioned to take advantage of every opportunity they are offered from the first day they arrive at the college of their choice.


K-12 Open House

Monday, November 13th at 6:00 pm


Now is the right time to invest in your child's education. CLICK HERE to receive more information about our rigorous academics, signature programs, community, and extracurricular opportunities. At SRDS we teach students how to think and not what to think, and we prepare students to be innovators, thinkers, and leaders.

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Saddle River Day School

Pre-K3 to Grade 12

147 Chestnut Ridge Road  •  Saddle River, NJ 07458  •  Tel: 201.327.4050

Saddle River Day School On-Campus Open House, Bergen County Moms

Watch your child grow from a student into a scholar—and into a lifetime of success.

From exploring Spanish, music and lab-based science beginning in Pre-K to hosting a TEDxYouth Conference in high school … from active play to competing on a championship Rebel Athletics team … inspiring success starts right from the beginning at Saddle River Day School.

Here, learning begins with an intriguing problem to solve, a story that captivates or a question that provokes curiosity—and the personal connection between teachers and students motivates everyone. To develop holistic, “right-brain” thinkers, we integrate science, technology, engineering, art and math, and celebrate different ways to solve real problems.

SRDS graduates from recent years are thriving at top colleges like Boston College, Northwestern, NYU, and UPenn. They are creative individuals inspired to think, solve and achieve—in academics and in life.


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