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Lakeside student places in national science competition

Student's research earns honors

Posted: January 15, 2012 - 1:00am
Lakeside High student Emily Ding was named a semifinalist in the National Siemans Competition in Math, Science and Technology for her cancer research.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Lakeside High student Emily Ding was named a semifinalist in the National Siemans Competition in Math, Science and Technology for her cancer research.

Four years of hard work by a Lakeside High School senior recently culminated with a semifinalist finish in one of the nation’s top science and math competitions.

During the summer before her freshman year of high school, Emily Ding started learning how to conduct lab research. She did the same the following summer.

In the subsequent summer months, the 18-year-old started the research and presentation on how retinoic acid, a derivative of vitamin A, can be used to halt the growth or even change the genetic makeup of neuroblastoma cancer cells.

Ding entered her work into the National Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, which annually recognizes high school students conducting science-related research projects.

She learned of the competition from former classmates Jimmy Meixiong and James Nie, who were a finalist and a semifinalist, respectively, in previous Siemens contests.

Meixiong now attends Harvard University while Nie studies at Stanford University.

“My parents are research scientists (at Georgia Health Sciences University), so I’ve been around science and research my whole life,” Ding said.

Like her parents, Ding said she particularly was interested in cancer research.

“Cancer is such a prevalent disease that everyone’s life has been touched by it; whether you’ve had it yourself or know someone who had it,” she said. “It’s really tragic.”

Despite her interest in the subject, Ding considers a career in research science a backup to her current plan of becoming a psychiatrist.

Following graduation, she hopes to major in pre-medicine at Wellesley College in Massachusetts or Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

At Lakeside High, Ding is an all-A student who volunteers at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center and mentors pupils at Blue Ridge Elementary School. She belongs to the National Honor Society, the Science National Honor Society and Health Occupations Students of America. Her favorite subject, she said, is biology.

“I love learning how the human body works and how diseases and medicines affect the body,” she said. “It’s like a mystery you’re trying to solve.”

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