Chin ‘nothing short of amazing’

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courtesy Michelle Chin

Senior Michelle Chin has garnered myriad science awards during her time at West Shore.

When Michelle Chin tackled her first science fair project in third grade, she probably had no idea it would plant a seed that would blossom into a fascination for science research.

Wherever her passion for science eventually takes her, Chin said she hopes to make a difference in the world of biology, in the environment and in the lives of those around her.

“The idea of creativity and innovation intrigued me,” Chin said. “With science research, you can have an impact on those around you, and that’s a big part of my involvement in science research.”

Throughout middle and high school, Chin’s work has become more complicated, leading up to her 12th-grade project, which involves genetically engineering plants to be more drought resistant.

“I am currently working on learning how specific proteins react with different plants, mainly because of the drought in the west right now,” she said.

However, Chin’s ambitious senior year project hit a snag. Her research had become too much for the school lab to house. West Shore science research coordinator Paula Ladd gave her a push in the right direction — to the University of Florida.

“In the beginning, she was able to complete her projects here at school using some of the advanced equipment in our research room here at West Shore under my supervision,” Ladd said. “She then went on to work under a professor at UF that I had worked with at a summer workshop.”

Chin’s work in Gainesville paid off with great dividends. Her research with Dr. Sixue Chen, director of UF’s proteomics facility, earned her first place in senior biology at the regional science fair, which punches her ticket to Arizona for the International Science and Engineering Fair, or ISEF, in May.

Ladd said she is blown away by what Chin has accomplished so far in high school and what she continues to achieve with her research and academics.

“I think it is nothing short of amazing,” Ladd said. “To be recognized as one of only 300 students nationwide selected as a semifinalist for the Intel Science Talent Search is a phenomenal accomplishment.”

Ladd added that Chin’s accomplishments haven’t changed her calm demeanor.

“She is driven, fiercely intelligent, yet incredibly humble,” Ladd said.

In addition to Chin’s science accomplishments, she is one of West Shore’s 11 National Merit Scholar finalists and is a member of the French Honor Society. Chin plays the cello in the chamber orchestra, which she said adds another dimension to her life.

“Music is a big part of my life,” Chin said. “It helps me to relax when things get too stressful.”

Chin’s friend, senior Addie Steele, said she thinks the world of Chin and sees much success in her future.

Steele and Chin have been close friends since their sophomore year.

“Michelle is so much fun to be around and is an awesome friend,” Steele said. “She is always there to smile, give you a hug and make really cheesy jokes.”

At their “memorable” lunch table, Steele, Chin and other friends made “cheesy jokes,” including one that lives on – involving a calculus gang.

“We were stressed about school and homework, and we decided that if school didn’t work out, we would all go to New York and dress hipster-like and graffiti calculus problems,” Steele said. “We also decided that our gang name would be called Sigma, because of the symbol in calculus. It would be funnier if you were there.”

Steele said she is excited for her friend’s seemingly limitless future, which likely doesn’t involve joining a gang.

“She is going to be on ‘Good Morning America’ one day, I just know it,” Steele added.

But Chin’s scientific journey never would’ve begun if it weren’t for her brother Marcus, who studies neuroscience at Cornell University, and his constant motivation.

“My brother has got to be my best friend,” she said. “He’s supported me through everything and he motivates me to do my best in everything.”

Though Marcus is settled in at the Ivy League school in New York, Chin is still unsure of where she will pursue her studies next.

“I was accepted to Stanford and Columbia,” she said. “I’m visiting the schools in April, so that’s when I’ll make my decision.”

Chin also has been accepted to the University of Florida and Drexel University, but has narrowed her choices down to the two highly acclaimed universities.

Her plans for college are as rigorous as her high school agenda. Chin said she wants to continue her research in an undergraduate lab. Her major will involve taking her high school research to the next level.

“I definitely want to major in a STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] field, but most likely biochemistry,” Chin added.

After racking up a plethora of accomplishments and awards in high school, Chin’s future is likely to be nothing short of amazing.

By Katie Garwood