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    Thursday, June 08, 2023

    St. Bernard senior has found her home in the research lab

    Seniors Payton Noe, right, and Abagail Kowalyshyn share a laugh Tuesday, May 16, 2023, during the Computer Science Honor Society’s end-of-year celebration at St. Bernard School in Montville. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Senior Payton Noe laughs Tuesday, May 16, 2023, during the Computer Science Honor Society end-of-year celebration after school at St. Bernard School in Montville. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Editor’s note: For the past 30 years, The Day has profiled remarkable seniors at each of the region’s high schools during graduation season.

    Montville ― For one St. Bernard senior, her comfort lies in the classroom with a microscope.

    Payton Noe, a 17-year-old from East Lyme, has found her calling conducting research in labs.

    She tried her luck running cross country as a freshman and junior, but always excelled in her math and science courses, including six advance placement courses. Noe is the president of the Math Honor Society, the secretary of the Computer Science Honor Society and a member of the National Honor Society.

    Her four years of learning at St. Bernard were built on a foundation her parents began when she was younger, sending Noe to summer educational programs to learn about biology and engineering when she was in fourth grade.

    Noe’s educational career path has now led her to study biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University in the fall.

    “I’m excited to be with more people who share a similar interest with me,” Noe told The Day.

    Noe credited those elementary summer courses, her participation in middle school science fairs and her parents for her interest in the field. She said she knew early on she had an interest in the health care field with an early thought of being a surgeon.

    But it was her participation in the science fair as middle school student at Sacred Heart School in Groton, and then later as a sophomore at St. Bernard that showed her that she didn’t necessarily have to deal with the stresses of being a surgeon to be in the medical field.

    Noe and her father, Mark, built a noise-canceling hearing aide for her middle school fair. As a high school student and working more independently, she created a computer mouse that could be controlled by head movements.

    “That kind of showed me how I could still be involved in the medical field without actually having to be a doctor,” Noe said.

    With her father Mark spending his career at Pfizer and her mother, Patricia, working as a clinical trial manager before her retirement, Noe and her younger brother Palmer were surrounded by STEM minds growing up.

    Palmer is a freshman at St. Bernard and participated in the VEX Robotics World Championship with the school’s first-year robotics club.

    It was her father who helped Noe apply for a research experience last summer at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y., which he had done as a student. Noe said this experience solidified her desire to conduct her own research in a lab in college and in her career.

    Noe will also use her education and passion to break into a field that is mostly made up of men. CareerExplorer.com claims 46% of biomedical engineers are female.

    Noe said it is important to have diverse viewpoints to solve complex problems in health care. She said she’s excited for the experiences ahead of her.

    “It’s definitely something important that I wanted to be involved in and to make a difference,” Noe said.

    When she’s not in the lab, Noe said she enjoys knitting and playing guitar.

    Noe is a fan of rock music and said she’s been playing a lot of Pink Floyd of late, including “Comfortably Numb,” on her Fender Stratocaster. She’s also a fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and though she’s been playing since the sixth grade, she has yet to master some of Jimi Hendrix’s iconic riffs.

    Her knitting usually entails stuffed animals for her and her family.

    With her hobbies aside, Noe is steadfast on a career in a lab after her education continues through graduate school, though has yet to pinpoint an exact career path.

    She said she knows she has some time to figure that out.

    “I just know I want to work in the lab and do original research,” she said.

    k.arnold@theday.com

    Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the correct spelling of Palmer Noe’s name.

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