Michael Justin Alexander Lawes was raised in Elmont, New York. From an early age, Michael possessed a strong passion for math and science. With the encouragement and support of his mother Michael excelled in the classroom and pushed himself outside of the classroom. This mentality of working hard, being responsible and striving for excellence continued into his high school career.
In the eighth grade, Michael joined the Science Research program at his school with 9 other aspiring scientists. Science Research is a club in which students research scientific problems, develop and conduct experiments, and then present their work at competitions. Independence, perseverance and responsibility are instilled into every researcher student’s character.After his 5 years of being a researcher, Michael has matured into an even more disciplined, professional young man. Michael specializes in microbiology research with the microscopic nematode Caenorhabditis elegans on various neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Over the course of 2 summers, Michael commuted to and conducted 2 research projects at Albert Einstein College of Medicine under the mentorship of Dr. Adi Pinkas. His initial focus was on the relationship between type 2 diabetes and advanced glycation products in C. elegans. For the second summer, Michael worked with the receptor for advanced glycation endproducts and observed the effect on neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. From this amazing opportunity, Michael’s work and contributions were included in 2 research publications: Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, and Neurotoxicology. His research on advanced glycation endproducts and glucose toxicity resulted in novel findings surrounding neurodegeneration and hyperglycemia.
In addition to Science Research, Michael is involved in Men of Elmont. Men of Elmont is a mentoring group that aims to guide young adolescents into manhood through positive self-realization. The group gives younger students role models to aspire to while simultaneously developing leadership qualities in older students. In meetings every Thursday, the members are exposed to new information pertaining to African American history, current events and what the future entails. Michael loves the engaging dialogue on relevant issues regarding African American youth and the optimal ways to combat such problems. Like many members, Michael recognizes the value of the knowledge acquired and also makes sure that people outside of the group are informed as well. Having the opportunity to inspire fellow peers is what Michael enjoys most and he proudly represents Men of Elmont whenever possible.
Michael will attend Columbia University and major in Computer Science. The freedom and the challenge provided by coding keeps Michael interested and excited to learn more. Michael aims to become a software engineer and create numerous applications that are accessible to everyone. One of Michael’s goals is to create a learning tool that teaches math and science in innovative ways so that children will enjoy and gravitate more towards the STEM field from an early age.