Episcopal senior wins grant to do research at Mayo Clinic

Episcopal senior wins grant to do research at Mayo Clinic

Alice Choi, a senior at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, has been selected by a panel of doctors from the nearby Mayo Clinic to receive a $5,000 scholarship from money given to her school by the Judy Nicholson Kidney Cancer Foundation.

Choi, who lives with her best friend, Camille Henley, and Henley’s family in San Jose, is an exchange student from Korea.

Choi’s award is part of a $20,000 grant the Judy Nicholson Kidney Cancer Foundation gave to the school over four years. Each year for the next three years, the student or team of students in Marion Zeiner’s Honors Science Seminar who write a winning proposal connected with discovering an early way to detect kidney cancer will receive $5,000 to forward their research.

“This grant means a lot to me. Last year I did research on parabens (a type of preservatives), and I conducted experiments at the school laboratory by myself,” Choi said in an email. “This grant will allow me to challenge myself with a deeper subject and to conduct experiments at a professional lab with the help from mentors. I am really looking forward to that.”

Choi’s project involves the study of the relationship between concentrations of cell metabolites and the development of kidney cancer. She will use the money for supplies and – because she doesn’t drive – transportation to the Mayo Clinic, where she will conduct her research, she said.

Choi competed against four classmates for the money and was selected because the focus of her proposed investigation was most closely related to the work being done by Mayo researchers, said Zeiner, noting she is not officially enrolled in the class this year but is working with the other research students as an extra-curricular activity.

“Alice has demonstrated the desire, the scientific knowledge and the skills necessary to design and conduct extraordinary science investigations,” said Zeiner. “Working with world-class researchers at the Mayo Clinic will give her additional tools to delve deeper and deeper into the world of scientific discovery. The school is pleased that Alice has been chosen as the grant recipient, and we expect that she will enthusiastically share her experiences and new knowledge with her classmates in the coming months,” she said.

Last year, as a student in the class, Choi won her category at the Florida State Science Fair and was a finalist at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, Penn., with a project on the effects of methylparaben, a food preservative, on ghost shrimp. “Fortunately, although my project was quite simple, I had the honor to be a ISEF finalist, but I still wanted to do more improved research,” she said.

Although she is not currently seeking to become a medical doctor, Choi said she is interested in being a professional researcher. This year she plans to apply to Cornell, Notre Dame, University of Southern California, University of Michigan, Purdue, University of Miami, Georgia Tech, UCLA, UC Berkley and UC Davis.

 By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News
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