High School students are a rare sight at Materials Research Society’s (MRS) conferences. These events, attended by thousands of people, are predominantly comprised of scientists, professors, postdoctoral students, graduate students, and professionals from around the world. They are a place where one can get a glimpse of what the future holds in the world of technological innovation.

Rambam Senior Jacob “Yaakov” Zerykier was one of a few high school students in attendance. However, not only did he attend, but he also presented his own work.

Yaakov participated in the prestigious Garcia Center Summer Scholars program at Stony Brook University this past summer, led by Dr. Miriam Rafailovich and Dr. Michael Cuiffo, with whom he worked closely on this project. The program brings together an elite group of high school students from around the world (this year on Zoom) to perform cutting-edge materials science research.

The work Yaakov and his group presented focused on reusing fabric that would otherwise go to waste, by de-weaving it (in a simple and environmentally friendly fashion) and synthesizing silver nanoparticles on it. These particles are known for being antibacterial, and through many tests on this new material, Yaakov and his group confirmed this. They also tested the material against H1N1 (COVID is currently off limits due to high laboratory safety requirements) and got a visible (though unfortunately not significant) result. The group hopes to do work on this material in the future and to push the boundaries of what this technology can do.

This is not the only time that Yaakov and his group will be presenting. He will also be presenting alongside Ivan Yuan and Elizabeth Zhang at the virtual MRS conference, set to take place the second week of December. There, they will be presenting on a different part of their work. That time around, it is a combination of the fibers with chitosan, a shell-fish derived polymer, which they used to create an absorbent and strong material for absorbing heavy metals. Once again, they used a bevy of tests to confirm their hopes for the new material.

In addition to the MRS, the group has also been accepted to present at the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) spring conference.

Yaakov, besides being Captain of the Rambam Robotics team and a STEM guru, also serves as President of Rambam’s SeniorCorp, is Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, The Rambam Record, and is a Co-President of the Rambam Chesed Club, among other things. He plans on learning in yeshivah in Israel next year and then attending college.