Ann Wong at work.

Wong Selected for GENIUS Olympiad

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Thursday June 01, 2017

“Let’s build a better future together.” That is one of the mottos of the GENIUS Olympiad, an international high school science project competition which is hosted by the State University of New York at Oswego. Ann Wong, a student at South Burlington High School (SBHS), embodies that bold mission with her project, “A Relationship Between a Tumor Suppressor (p53) and Blood Vessels in Ovarian Cancer.” Only a sophomore, Wong was selected to attend the GENIUS Olympiad after presenting her project at the Vermont Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Fair held earlier this year at Norwich University. Only three individual finalists were selected at the Vermont Stem Fair for the GENIUS Olympiad Awards and all three are students at SBHS; along with Wong, Hannah Farrell and Marcus Albertson received the honor.

As for Wong, she is excited to attend the Olympiad June 12, “I look forward to showing my project to other people all around the country. I am very proud of the work that I did for my science project and I am excited to share the research I conducted with people outside of Vermont.”

Cancer research projects may not be standard tenth grade fare, but for Wong, the inspiration for her work was close to home. “My dad is an oncologist and when I was younger, I would go to the hospital and visit with his patients. It was heartbreaking for me to see the pain that his patients were in and I decided that one day, if I could, I would try to make a difference in the cancer world. When I found out that I had the opportunity to work on a research project, I instantly knew that I wanted to do a topic that was related to cancer.”

The young scientist later met with her mentor, Dr. Karen Lounsbury, and supervisor, Theresa Wellman, and nailed down her final project idea, which according to Wong, “Involved cancer research along with another question I had: why is cancer able to grow and what is the best way to prevent it from metastasizing?”

After Wong presents at the GENIUS Olympiad, her research will continue. She says, “The results of my project have led to more questions. In the future, we plan to study the molecular pathway between p53 and angiogenesis.”

Wong says her interest in the sciences began in elementary school where she found an appetite for discovering new things, “I loved learning about space and the human body - to today, learning about protein synthesis and studying cancer.” This passion continues to cultivate her interest in the sciences. “It amazes me how much we still do not know about science,” says Wong, “so I enjoy learning as much as I can about the world around me.”