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Tuesday, January 25, 2000

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Lizhou "Lisa" Wang in her Iolani science classroom.
"I guess you can say this is a childhood dream of mine.
Ever since ninth grade I've heard of (the Intel) competition,
and I wanted to enter it," she said.

Teen scientist
named finalist
for elite award

The high school senior at
Iolani will compete in the
prestigious Intel Science
Talent Search

By Suzanne Tswei


Life is a matter of priorities, says 15-year-old Lizhou "Lisa" Wang, a senior at Iolani School.

Science and math are first, then sleep, followed immediately by more science and math.

"I've had to make a lot of sacrifices," says Wang, who yesterday was named one of 40 finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search, a prestigious nationwide science competition.

"You have to know what's important in life and go after that. I had to set my priorities, and the rest of the things -- even the things I enjoy doing, like literature and history -- end up getting less attention," says Wang, who's had to give up dance lessons, too.

Wang's mentor at Iolani School, John "Papa Jack" Kay, describes her as a youngster who knows what she wants and goes after it. "She's very competitive. She thrives on that," he says.

Wang is used to setting goals and achieving them since emigrating from China six years ago. She learned to speak English and quickly advanced through Lunalilo School and Washington Intermediate School, skipping a grade at each school.

By the time she entered Iolani School on full scholarship, she knew she wanted to win a finalist place in the Intel competition.

"I guess you can say this is a childhood dream of mine. Ever since ninth grade I've heard of this competition, and I wanted to enter it," Wang says.

She first prepared for the competition by volunteering at the Hawaii Biosensor Laboratory at the University of Hawaii to learn about lab procedures.

Then she set her sights on an internship program at Michigan State Univeristy. She was awarded a summer internship last year, and she used that opportunity to set up experiments for the science project that she submitted to the Intel competition.

"At first, I was assigned to a graduate student. Initially, I was just asked to wash dishes and things like that. I didn't really like that," Wang says.

"I talked to the professor and told him the work was too boring. I told him I was better suited for more independent studies."

Wang was granted her wish. She began her research project : "Grating of Polymer onto Gold by Surface-Initiated Polymerization: A Novel Approach in Sensor Technology." Her experiments uncovered ways to sense molecules instantly and eventually may be useful in detecting chemicals.

As a finalist, Wang will be awarded a $5,000 scholarship, a laptop computer, and a free trip to Washington, D.C., in March to compete for the top award, a $100,000 four-year scholarship.

E-mail to City Desk

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