As a Monte Vista high school freshman from Cupertino California, Angela Zhang decided to tackle "The Big C". She simply asked herself, "Why does this happen. Why does cancer cause death? What are we doing to fix this and what can I do to help."
After delving into doctorate level scientific study and eventually talking her way into a research lab at Stanford, she rolled up her sleeves, took a hard look at the problem. By the time she reached her seniior year, she had made her ground-breaking discovery. Last week, it was announced in Washington that Ms. Zhang won top honors at the Siemens Foundation's annual high school science competition. The prize, a $100,000 scholarship for research. You can watch the video to see what her breakthrough entailed, but in a nutshell, she figured a way to target and kill cancer cells while preserving the healthy cells around them. This approach, though several years from human trials, could make cancer treatments much less toxic and far more effective.
Putting aside the audacity of one so young to take on the ultimate biomedical beast without a second thought, I was also struck by the dominance of Asian scientists among the Siemens winners. From the runners up to the top prize, Asian youngsters ruled the day. As a substitute teacher, I've noticed the same propensities. Asian students are more disciplined, serious-minded, and better behaved as a rule. Sure, this is a great argument for open immigration, but I can't help wondering why Asian minds have such a clear academic edge, especially in the sciences. Whatever it is, could we somehow package it and feed it to American kids?