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Ossining High Schooler Named 'Rising Scientist'

Kylie Zarro
Kylie Zarro Photo Credit: Contributed

OSSINING, N.Y. -- Kylie Zarro, a senior at Ossining High School, has been selected to receive a 2017 Rising Scientist Award from the Child Mind Institute and the City University of New York Advanced Science Research Center.

Each spring, high schools in the New York metro area nominate their best 11th-grade science student for the honor. The awards recognize outstanding students who show exceptional promise and interest in child and adolescent mental health or pediatric neuroscience, as well as a commitment to understanding and addressing difficult scientific questions. Each winner receives a $2,000 scholarship.

Zarro, 16, has been investigating how a certain type of therapy can reduce the social deficits associated with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders. The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS), which was developed at UCLA, helps children and teens learn social skills that will benefit them in making and keeping friends.

“I have an interest in autism in general because my brother, who is 14, was diagnosed, Zarro said. "I’ve seen him and others on the spectrum struggle socially. “I’ve realized that certain therapies and behavioral approaches have been more effective than others."

After learning the PEERS program is offered at NYU Langone, Zarro volunteered and commuted to New York City once a week during her junior year. She surveyed the participants before and after the 14-week PEERS programs to see how they were progressing and used the data for her project.

Zarro said being at NYU helped crystalize what career she will pursue.

“I want to do clinical psychology when I grow up and work with children with special needs,” she said.

Several students at OHS Science Research Program filled out award applications last spring, and co-teachers Valerie Holmes and Angelo Piccirillo selected Zarro’s to submit.

“We knew she was a great fit for the award criteria,” the teachers said. “We were elated to learn the news that she was selected.”

Zarro will receive her award at the Child Mind Institute’s “On the Shoulders of Giants” scientific symposium in October and will attend a breakfast at the Advanced Science Research Center.

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