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Council Rock South Senior Honored for Cancer Research Science Project

Jessica Wang’s cancer research science project won $2,000 for the Northampton school.

Council Rock South senior Jessica Wang has a lot to celebrate these days. The 2020 graduate was recently named a Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar, placing her among the most promising young STEM students in the country. The Regeneron Science Talent Search, the oldest and most prestigious national competition for High School seniors, allows students to showcase their original research and ingenuity in tackling significant global challenges. Jessica was one of a select few out of almost 2,000 competitors to be recognized by judges for exceptional research skills and innovative thinking.

Jessica’s science project involved researching potential new therapeutics in the treatment of liver cancer. Her interest in cancer research stems from several significant personal experiences, including losing her grandmother to the disease at an early age. She was particularly inspired to pursue liver cancer research following the sudden death of her teacher’s husband from an aggressive form of the disease. After learning that liver cancer is often resistant to most chemotherapy drugs, she decided to explore alternative treatments. Her research, which involved designing novel lipid-based nanoparticles (LNP) as effective siRNA drug delivery systems into liver-cancer cells, showed promise for further therapeutic research, especially because the LNPs were not toxic to cells. Jessica is encouraged by the results of her research and the recognition she received for her work, saying, “Overall, the whole project was a really great learning experience and I feel grateful towards those who helped me along the way… I remain optimistic that liver cancer treatments will continue to advance in the near future”.

Jessica’s love of science and innovation were evident at a young age. Her mother recalls that as a young elementary school child she was insatiably curious, constantly assembling random household objects to form simple “inventions”, whether it be a parachute to transport objects from the second floor of her home to the first floor, or a rudimentary “page turner” (concocted from.. what else? a ruler, tape, string and binder clip!) which allowed her to read without physically turning the pages of the book. Her passion for the science side of STEM was sparked by her father, a college chemistry major, and continued to blossom throughout middle school and high school, where she earned numerous awards at regional and state science fairs and competitions. It is no surprise, then, that Jessica plans to meld her STEM interests by studying Chemical-Biological Engineering in college. She ultimately hopes to earn a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, with the goal of pursuing an academic career as a college professor, conducting drug delivery research.   

Jessica’s talents are not limited to STEM fields, however. Remarkably, she has also won regional and state level awards for music (clarinet), artwork, and poetry, and was president of Council Rock South’s Mock Trial team, earning accolades for outstanding oratory performance. She is also involved in social activism, particularly for female rights, starting a chapter of “Girl Up” at her school which is an organization designed to spread awareness of global issues related to women’s education and rights.

Jessica plans to attend Princeton University in the fall. When asked about her daughter’s success in STEM and her recognition as a Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar, Jessica’s mom said “Jessica has been determined to be a scientist since she was a little girl. As she continues to pursue a science major at college, we are very proud of her!” We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this promising young scholar.