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Seniors At Sacred Heart Greenwich Honored For Primate Research At Bronx Zoo

From left,Tierney Saccavino of Acorda Therapeutics; Sacred Heart students Grace Passannante of Rye and Kelly Heinzerling of Greenwich; Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Greenwich talk show host Lisa Wexler.
From left,Tierney Saccavino of Acorda Therapeutics; Sacred Heart students Grace Passannante of Rye and Kelly Heinzerling of Greenwich; Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Greenwich talk show host Lisa Wexler. Photo Credit: Contributed

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Two Sacred Heart Greenwich seniors -- one from Greenwich and the other from Rye -- were honored for their inspirational scientific research into primates at the Bronx Zoo.

Seniors Kelly Heinzerling of Greenwich and Grace Passannante of Rye were recognized as this year’s winners of the Acorda Scientific Excellence Award at a recent ceremony held at the office of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in White Plains, N.Y.

The students plan to continue their research after they graduate and head to college. Kelly will attend the University of Pennsylvania and Grace will go to Hamilton College.

Astorino joined with representatives of Acorda Therapeutics, sponsors of the award, and Greenwich broadcaster Lisa Wexler to recognize the winners, who were interviewed live on 1490 WGCH-AM.

Awards were presented to 19 high school students, 16 from Westchester County.

Kelly and Grace have studied primate research within the Sacred Heart Science Research Program, which provided them with additional opportunities to work with scientists at New York University and the Bronx Zoo.

The title of their project is “The Effect of Zoo Visitors and Noise Levels on the Stereotypies of Gorillas in Captivity.”

Stereotypies are self-destructive behaviors such as repetitive pacing, scratching and regurgitation, which result from stress or boredom. They will present their findings to the Bronx Zoo to assist in improving the welfare of captive gorillas.

“In this global economy, the jobs not only of tomorrow, but of today, call for a solid grounding in science, technology, engineering and math,” Astorino said. “I am proud to join in supporting STEM education and congratulate these students on their groundbreaking research.”

Acorda Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in Ardsley, N.Y., launched the program in 2014.

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