Guided research in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine
Hawken's STEMM program for sophomores, juniors and seniors provides guided research in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine.

Students involved in the STEMM program begin with a semester of Scientific Research I, which develops scientific reading comprehension and critical thinking and also encourages broad thinking about experimental methods, limitations, and questions.

Scientific Research II, which spans spring and summer, challenges students to conduct research, work with a mentor, and review journal articles on a topic related to their area of study. Students are required to complete a 160 hour summer research project with a mentor at NASA, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic, VA Hospital, University Hospital, or another research lab.

In the fall following the research component of the program, Scientific Research III develops student skills in scientific writing and oral presentation as they as they write an abstract, prepare a professional poster, and rehearse a talk based on their summer project. Each year, Upper School STEMM students present projects before a panel of judges at Hawken’s annual STEMM Research Symposium. Past research project topics include robotics, watersheds, earthquake resistance, cancer, and nanotechnology.

Students have presented their research at the Hawken’s annual Research Symposium, Northeast Ohio Science and Engineering Fair, the Intel Science and Engineering Fair, and Siemens. One student’s work was published in the World Journal for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery; another presented his research on “The Effect of Neutral Spaces in a Markov Chain Model of Bacterial Evolution” at the 2014 European Conference on Mathematical and Theoretical Biology in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Approximately 90 students are currently involved in Hawken’s STEMM program. In recent years, numerous Hawken students have garnered grand prizes and first and second place awards at the Northeast Ohio Science and Engineering Fair. Since 2010, six grand prize winners from Hawken have received all-expense paid trips to the Intel Science and Engineering Fair.

Dr. Robert J. Maciunas, 1955-2011

Dr. Robert J. Maciunas was a gifted and visionary surgeon and pioneer in the field of neurosurgery and deep-brain stimulation.

In 2004, he became the first surgeon in North America to implant a deep brain stimulator to treat Tourette's syndrome, which can cause uncontrollable motions and outcries. His patient recovered far beyond predictions, giving hope to people around the world with this debilitating neurological disorder. Maciunas had already helped to develop radiation surgery and imaging techniques for invasive surgery. He once called his work an "equal mix of high science and high art."

Dr. Maciunas was one of the world's foremost experts on brain imaging, having spent his career studying and teaching computer navigation. Image-guided systems are used to treat complicated tumors or those that are hard to access. He was the author of numerous books and other publications about image-guided neurosurgery, including the very first in the field, Interactive Image Guide: Neurosurgery.

Dr. Maciunas was the Vice Chairman of Neurological Surgery at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland where he was also the Director of the Brain Tumor Center and Gamma Knife and Cyberknife Radiosurgery Center.

Dr. Maciunas was an enthusiastic supporter of the research program at Hawken. He served as a mentor and was co-chair and co-founder of the STEMM Pathways Advisory Committee. It was he who originally proposed the creation of a student research symposium as part of the STEMM Pathways program.
Other STEM accolades:

Dweeja Dasarahthy ’17 was named a regional finalist for the 2016 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, placing her among the top 60 in the nation.

Brian Sun ’18 helped develop a research proposal that led to a first place win in the 2016 Ken Souza Memorial Research competition. His team’s experiment will be carried out on a NanoLab flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle, and Brian will be invited to share the findings at the annual meeting of the ASGSR in the fall of 2017.

Sophia Shakir ’23 presented her research titled, “The impact of knee osteoarthritis distribution and presence of total knee replacement on knee joint pain score reduction following Genicular Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation” at the American Society of Regional Anesthesia in Orlando, FL.

Manan Raina ’25 has been involved in research for several years and has published his research titled, “Vasoactive-ventilation-renal score and outcomes in infants and children after cardiac surgery.” He has also been highlighted in the Kidney Resource Guide Symposium for his article, “The Basics of Inherited Kidney Disease.”

Sita Ramaiya ’23 published her paper from her 2021 STEMM project entitled "Anorectal pathology in the HIV population: A guide for radiologists," published in 2022 in Abdominal Radiology.  

Harsha Sanaka ’23 presented at the 2022 American College of Gastroenterology and has published the following articles from his research:
  1.  Sanaka Harsha, Garg R, Patel V, et al. (2022), “Temporal Trends and Disparities in Gastroenterology Care Utilization Before, During, and After COVID-19 Pandemic.” Journal of Investigative Medicine.
  2. Gomez-Nguyen A, Gupta N, Sanaka Harsha, Dennis Gruszka, Alaina Pizzarro ’24, et al. (2022), “Chronic Stress Induces Colonic Tertiary Lymphoid Organ Formation and Protection Against Secondary Injury Through IL-23/IL-22 Signaling.” Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesAlaina Pizarro, a current Hawken junior, is a co-author on this second publication.
In other Hawken STEMM news, Hawken alumnus and founder of the Hawken STEMM Program, Dr. Jacob Scott, paired up with Hawken faculty Dr. Lacy Chick and two Hawken AP Biology students, Grace Shum ’23 and Lillian Fu ’23, to build and validate a low-cost bioreactor for classroom use. The purpose of their research was to examine a cost-efficient way for students to learn about experimental design, evolution, biotechnology, and bacterial growth and antibiotic resistance. Their paper, "Science Forum: A low-cost, open-source evolutionary bioreactor and its educational use," was published in November, 2022.

Recent Student Accolades

In the last five years, Hawken STEMM students have garnered impressive accomplishments at the Northeast Ohio Science and Engineering Fair:

  • Zoltan Katorebai ’24, Grand Prize Winner at the Buckeye Science and Engineering Fair among numerous other awards.
Northeast Ohio Science and Engineering Fair:
  • Bea Hardacre ’24, Grand Prize Winner in physical science category (NEOSEF)
  • 6 Second Place Winners
  • 4 Third Place Winners
  • Numerous Additional Awards and Cash Prizes

  • Sasha Turner ’23, Grand Prize Winner in the Biological Science Division
  • 4 First Place Winners
  • 5 Second Place Winners
  • 3 Third Place Winners
  • 4 Cash Prizes

  • 1 First Place Winner
  • 3 Second Place Winners
  • 1 Third Place Winner
  • 6 Cash Prizes
  • 1 NEOSF Science News Magazine Award

2020 – Fair canceled due to COVID-19

  • 9 second-place prizes (in various categories)
  • 2 third-place prizes
  • Over $1500 in cash prizes
  • Daniel Kotrebai won 1st place at District Science Fair in Akron and qualified for State Science Fair

The following Hawken students claimed 3 of 4 grand prizes at the 2018 Northeast Ohio Science and Engineering Fair:

  • Claudia Hamilton ’19, Grand Prize Winner in the engineering category, David Lyons ’19, Grand Prize Winner in the math-computer category, Allison Sewell ’19 Grand Prize Winner in the health-medicine category
  • 4 First Place Winners
  • 6 Second Place Winners
  • 1 Third Place Winner

  • Dhweeja Dasarathy ’17, Grand Prize Winner in Physical Science; All expense paid trip to the Intel Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, CA
  • 8 Second Place Winners
An independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school, toddler through grade 12

Early Childhood, Lower, and Middle Schools, 5000 Clubside Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124
Birchwood School of Hawken, 4400 West 140th Street, Cleveland, OH 44135 

Upper School, PO Box 8002 (12465 County Line Rd), Gates Mills, OH 44040
Mastery School of Hawken, 11025 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106

Gries Center, 10823 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106

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