Junior Michelle Chin was selected to be a student speaker at the Junior Science, Engineering and Humanities Symposium, a competition hosted by the University of Florida on Jan. 29-31.
“The selection process was very rigorous,” Chin said. “I was very honored to be selected as a student speaker.”
Twenty-seven other students from throughout the state of Florida also were invited to attend the symposium, where Chin was chosen to present her science fair project before judges and peers. Chin’s experiment addresses modern scientific innovations, including ideas that scientists are contemporarily exploring.
“Her project involves genetically engineered plants,” science research teacher Paula Ladd said via email. “It deals with current issues.”
Chin conducted initial research and testing for her project locally, transferring her experiment to a lab at the University of Florida to run final tests.
“Michelle designed her own experiment based on extensive research,” Ladd said. “She then contacted a professor at UF who let her complete the testing in his lab, under his supervision.”
Chin confronted several problems while working on her experiment.
“It was difficult to find time to work in my mentor’s lab during the school year,” Chin said. “I also encountered many setbacks while doing my science fair project and had to find solutions to deal with new obstacles.”
Ladd explains aspects of Chin’s project, which deals with concepts in biotechnology that the scientific community is currently discovering.
“The science is very cutting-edge,” Ladd said. “Michelle’s project uses DNA electrophoresis and polymerase chain reaction, which are biotech processes that are very advanced for a high school student.”
The top five speakers of the competition advance to the national symposium in Washington, D.C., and speakers who win first, second and third place are awarded scholarships to the university of their choice.
“The selection committee looks for students who have original research ideas and strong passions for science,” Chin said.
The speaker competition is for juniors and seniors only, and it has been half a decade since a West Shore student has been selected to attend.
“The last student selected to the speaker competition was five years ago,” Ladd said. “[Although] four years ago, Karl Krehbiel was selected to present a poster [for freshman and sophomore students] based on his research.”
Chin said conducting her science fair experiment and achieving the opportunity to speak at the symposium has been a learning experience.
“I learned to never give up, to follow through with my goals and to work extra hours,” Chin said.
By Natalia Marmol