PEN Student Wins Science Fair
• Peninsula High School student takes first prize at L.A. Country Fair to qualify for INTEL competition.
Christian An, Peninsula High School junior, has placed first in the Los Angeles County Science Fair in biochemistry and molecular biology and is now advancing to INTEL, an international science and engineering fair.
Several Peninsula students competed in the L.A. Fair, held March 22-24, where they displayed the projects they have been working on throughout the year.
The Peninsula students are part of the Science Research program, under the guidance of Melissa Klose.
This was the 15th year that students have been participating in the fair, but the first for An.
An has been a part of Science Research program for two years, this year being her third year.
INTEL, An’s next competition, has students from across the globe gather and share their projects. From Japan to Germany, these students present their projects and display their findings to win awards or scholarships.
Said An, “I heard how great INTEL was from other seniors who went there, and I am definitely excited not only to display my research, but to meet new friends and learn about what they did.”
An’s project focuses on biomedical engineering and attempts to advance microspheres, which can be used to locally deliver drugs.
Before she started her project, she set three requirements for her microspheres: They had to be biocompatible, multilayered and have controlled dissolution.
To reiterate, she compared inserting microspheres into a body that would be sent out to a personal pharmacist. Her microsphere not only can control the rate at which the drug would dissolve but also has multiple layers to send out different drugs at different times.
“I am still debating whether or not I want to continue my project next year, but some of my judges encouraged me to apply for a patent, so I am currently looking into that process,” An said.
Finding a topic for research did not come easily. In her first year participating in science research, she thought of a psychology experiment and was stuck at a desk reading CT scans for a doctor. However, she knew that she had bigger ideas than being stuck behind a desk. She decided to apply to labs at nearby universities but was unable to get a response.
Finally, she decided to take matters into her own hands and rented her own lab space, where she started the project that would carve a path for her to advance to INTEL.
“It was a frustrating when I ran into a problem because I did not have a mentor to turn to,” An said. “However, I think I learned more and the fact that I did it alone makes me even more proud of my project. I am very interested in biomedical research and biomedical engineering, but it would be a lie to say that the field is not intimidating. I do not want to limit myself to one field just yet but I am definitely passionate about the myriad of possibilities that lie in the research.”