GAITHERSBURG, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Learning Undefeated, a nonprofit organization that provides life-changing STEM experiences for high needs communities, today announced that Faith Cheung, a Potomac, Md., resident who is a 10th grader at Richard Montgomery High School, was named winner of the 2019 Maryland BioGENEius Challenge, the premier competition for high school students that recognizes outstanding original research in biotechnology for healthcare, sustainability and the environment. As the Maryland BioGENEius finalist, Cheung will represent the state in the International BioGENEius Challenge at the 2019 BIO International Convention.
“Learning Undefeated's mission is to inspire and encourage students to explore the possibilities available to them through STEM education, in an effort to propel better job opportunities, new discoveries and innovation once thought beyond the realm of the possible,” said Brian Gaines, CEO of Learning Undefeated. “As our expert panel of scientist judges evaluated this year's BioGENEius Challenge entries, we were very impressed with the creativity, intellectual curiosity and top caliber talent being cultivated in Maryland schools. For the first time ever, our winner and both runners up were all talented young women, who show incredible potential to make their marks in the scientific community. We are proud of them and honored to have Faith representing Maryland in Philadelphia.”
Cheung’s winning project was entitled “Near-Infrared Photothermal Therapy Cancer Treatment Assisted With Graphene-Based Materials.” The project explored the use of graphene as an agent for photothermal treatment of cancer, a method that relies on near-infrared light to ablate tumors. Cheung investigated interstitial doping of graphene with various dopants as a strategy to engineer smaller band gaps within the window of near-infrared light, ranging between 600 to 1000 nanometers. In this approach, the effectiveness of laser irradiation was enhanced through the photothermal heating provided by the use of graphene as a photothermal heating agent. Cheung's work established that oxygen-doped graphene at its B-site could be an optimal and efficient heating agent for ablation due to its narrow, yet fitting, band gap, and that the results open up a new avenue for the application of doped nanomaterials in photothermal therapy.
Runners up in the 2019 Maryland competition were:
- 2nd Place - Alena Shen, a Ellicott City, Md., resident and 11th grader from River Hill High School, for "Cellular Mechanism of Glucocorticoid-Induced Adverse Effects on Growing Bone"
- 3rd Place - Seo Jin Lee, a Bethesda, Md., resident and 11th grader at Walter Johnson High School, for "Early Diagnosis of Colon Cancer Using Rapid Hybridization of DNA Biomarkers"
As the Maryland winner, Cheung will receive an all-expenses paid trip to compete at the International BioGENEius Challenge at the BIO International Convention, taking place in Philadelphia, June 3-6, 2019. While there, Cheung will have the opportunity to engage with leading companies, scientists and innovators currently transforming the scientific landscape.
Winners of the International BioGENEius competition will be announced June 5.
About Learning Undefeated
Learning Undefeated (formerly MdBio Foundation) provides life-changing STEM experiences for high needs communities by providing equitable access to education and inspiring students to imagine their own success. Through innovative and experiential education programs for grades K-12, we are sparking interest in STEM careers and building the workforce that will drive the innovation economy. Learning Undefeated’s flagship education program features mobile STEM labs that have provided hands-on learning opportunities to nearly 200,000 K-12 students in 12 states since 2003. Learning Undefeated also operates several other celebrated STEM education programs including the Young Science Explorers Program, a summer camp for middle school students; Advancing Tomorrow’s Leaders in STEM (ATLAS) College and Career Exploration Program; STEM Leadership Experience; student competitions; after-school programs; curriculum development; and disaster recovery education. Visit learningundefeated.org or follow on social media @LearningUNDFTD.