W.F. West student competes at International Science Fair
W.F. West junior and Advanced Molecular Genetics student, Ashlynn Gallagher, participated in the 2017 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest international pre-college science competition.
Ashlynn qualified for the fair after taking first place overall at the South Sound Regional Science and Engineering Fair in Tacoma on March 25. As overall winner in the grades 9-12 category, Ashlynn earned an all-expenses paid trip to the 2017 Intel ISEF May 14-19 in Los Angeles, CA. Her project, entitled “A Novel Approach to Understanding Cancer: Using Antitumor Agents in The G2/M DNA Damage Checkpoint in the P53 Gene On The Early Development of Zebrafish Embryos” focuses on the gene p53, which is a gene that is often mutated in cancer cells. She is treating Zebrafish embryos with antitumor drugs and measuring if the treatment changes the activity of p53 in the Zebrafish cells.
“Ashlynn has taken great initiative in her research and has learned a lot while working on her project,” said W.F. West teacher Matthew Bremgartner. “I would estimate her current proficiency to be at the level of an undergraduate with two semesters of research experience.”
At the international competition, Ashlynn joined approximately 1,800 high school students from over 75 countries, regions, and territories to showcase their independent research and compete for approximately $4 million in prizes.
Ashlynn’s project was showcased on an international stage, where doctoral level scientists reviewed and judged her work.
This summer, Ashlynn will intern at Washington State University in Pullman in the plant sciences department.
“I feel so fortunate to say I’ve been able to use the advanced equipment at W.F. West,” said Ashlynn, who participates in Running Start classes at Centralia College but returns to W.F. West for science courses. “At the science fair, I was the only person in my category to have access to this equipment at my high school. Other students had to travel to larger labs to do their research,” she said.
W.F. West has been fortunate to purchase state-of-the-art science equipment through generous donors and the Chehalis Foundation.
“The lab opportunities and equipment that we have at W.F. West is typically not available at the high school level,” said Bremgartner. “The Chehalis tradition of giving has led up to a well-developed program that is similar to a college setting. When our students go to college, their mentors are surprised by the level of competence of W.F. West students.”
At the science fair, Ashlynn met admissions staff from colleges and universities such as Stanford and MIT and was encouraged to apply for their programs. “My experience at W.F. West has really motivated me to think beyond what I might have considered before,” said Ashlynn.
Watch this video to learn more about Ashlynn’s project and W.F. West’s STEM program.
See more videos on our Chehalis School District YouTube channel.