Thick shelled

Mussels adapt to predatory crabs in a Long Island salt marsh by growing a thicker shell, concluded Samantha Garvey, after two years of research. The 17-year-old, a semi-finalist for the $100,000 Intel science prize, has a pretty thick shell herself. She’s been living in a motel and then a homeless shelter with her parents and three siblings since their eviction on New Year’s Eve.

Her mother, Olga, a nurse’s assistant, was out of work for eight months following a car accident in February, and her father, Leo, could not keep up with the bills alone on his salary as a cab driver.

The family will move into a rent-subsidized three-bedroom home in 10 days.

Before the eviction, the Garveys had rented a home for six or seven years, Leo Garvey said. Before that, the family had also lived in homeless shelters from time to time; Leo Garvey described himself as a recovering alcoholic.

Samantha said that she had worried for several months before the eviction, knowing that her mother was ailing and money was tight.

Garvey plans to become a marine biologist. She’s applied to Yale and Brown.


About Joanne


  1. Joanne: I am so gratified to hear this story of passion and inner drive for learning. What a great person Samantha seems to be. How I wish more of the students I see around me were so self motivated and responsible. I don’t think that it is something that can be taught. It certainly can’t be conferred on children as a trophy or award. Clearly she herself has taken charge of her future. In decades of teaching I only have known a few students that had this inner conviction. Their backgrounds were different, their circumstances varied, but that same passion for learning and acceptance that it was up to them to make things happen was deeply rooted. Thanks for sharing her story.