Local high school students are serious researchers 0

Three Massachusetts high school students recently made it into the eastern region semifinals of the Siemens Competition, which will head into National Finals in New York in early December. One of them, Minhye Kim, a Brookline High School senior, took a moment with Blast Magazine to discuss her findings as a young researcher.

Blast: Congratulations on your research studies! Could you explain briefly what your research focused on?

Minhye Kim: Thank you! The title of my project is "Hepatitis B Virus Infection Increases the Risk for Developing Diabetes." I studied and found the mechanism that links the two diseases together.

Blast: What was your inspiration for this research?

MK: I was actually having a conversation with my mentor and he… mentioned something very interesting. He said that over 350 million people worldwide are infected with HBV. I had no idea HBV was such a serious health problem. So, I did a little research on my own and found out HBV leads to different liver diseases. I knew from past knowledge that glucose production happens in the liver and glucose production is very important in type 2 diabetes. So, I was curious whether HBV had anything to do with type 2 diabetes.

Blast: What is the goal of your research?

MK: The goal of my research was to find whether HBV and type 2 diabetes were linked at all. Actually, no previous research had been done about my topic of research. So there really wasn’t anything known about the link between the two diseases.

Blast: How long did it take you to come up with all the background information and analysis for your study?

MK: There were definitely lots of readings to do! There were a few days when I would just read manuscripts and not do anything else, like running experiments. I would say the entire project took about a year. It spanned throughout my junior year.

Blast: And being so young and talented in this field, do you feel or hope that more young people will get involved in research like this?

MK: Yeah! I think it would great for young people to go out there and have research internships because it’s an awesome experience. You find out what is like to be a scientist in a real-life setting and it’s worth it!

Blast: What is your ambition for the future? Do you plan on studying science or medicine?

MK: I definitely want to go to medical school. I want to become a pediatrician and have my own diabetic clinic for children… if there is no cure for diabetes by then.

Winners of the regional event are invited to compete at the National Finals at New York University December 3 — 7. For more info visit http://www.siemens-foundation.org.

The Siemens Foundation contributes over $7 million annually to support the field of science, math, engineering and technology in the United States. The Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology encourages and recognizes high school students who challenge themselves through their studies and research, and may obtain national recognition for their high school research projects in science and technology.