Zheng Yan Enters International Science Competition



Zheng Yan (’16) won second overall at the BSSEF state science fair.

Eugene Kim, Opinions Editor

In March, students from all over Wisconsin gathered to participate in the Badger State Science and Engineering Fair (BSSEF). BSSEF is an annual science competition affiliated with the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) that brings together several students from various schools. Research topics fit into different categories ranging from chemistry to computer science. Students give presentations about their topics and have their projects scrutinized by several judges throughout the day. Among these students, Zheng Yan (’16) placed first in his category of medical sciences and second overall in the fair, earning a place to go on to compete at the Intel ISEF.

For his project, Yan researched the viability of the use of heart cells differentiated from stem cells in reversing damage done by heart attacks. Yan believed the process to be a difficult but nonetheless an excellent experience. “I did feel overwhelmed at times,” he admitted, “but overall it was an amazing learning experience that let me apply my academic skills to the real world.”

The results of his research show that the stem cell-derived heart cells are a potential method to help save many lives from heart problems in the future. “This is one of the first studies that show any support for the effectiveness and safety of this implantation procedure,” Yan said. “[Heart attacks are] one of the leading problems of the world today, and if further successes are seen down the road, we could be seeing [this procedure] being used to treat the long term effects of heart attacks.” Currently, there is no viable treatment available.

Despite mild anxiety, Yan expressed excitement with regards to his upcoming competition. Yan will compete against over 1,700 other ISEF finalists across the world in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania between May 10 and 15. He will be one of just six finalists representing Wisconsin. Over 1,000 judges will be present to scrutinize his and others’ work.