Intel ISEF 2017

Intel ISEF is coming to LA May 14-19! The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, spitting distance from USC.  I highly encourage you to go with your research labmates, your friends, any K-12 students you want to inspire, or your family!

Thousands of high school student finalists from around the world will descend upon downtown Los Angeles and blow away the judges, the volunteers, and the public as they explain the rigorous, creative, original and independent research they have conducted at a weeklong poster presentation with optional display items.

I am proud to say I was selected as a Finalist way back in May 2008 and had the opportunity to go to Atlanta on an all-expenses paid trip! It was my first
time staying in a fancy Hyatt hotel.

The group of us students from my home state toured the gigantic Atlanta Aquarium, the Coca-Cola Factory, and the CNN building. We also attended a button exchange and a dance social with international students, and heard nobel laureates speak! The best part was learning about the research other students had done and being inspired by the nobel laureates who encouraged us to pursue our dreams and never give up in the face of failed experiments.

My project was in the Cell and Molecular Biology category and I won the Second Place Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in the Physiological Sciences from the American Physiological Society.

My project was on the effects of BDNF on the surface expression of AMPA receptors via a calcium-calmodulin kinase signal transduction pathway. In simple terms, I was looking at a specific signal pathway in a rat neuron (see picture) to see whether a particular molecule (BDNF) caused more cell surface receptors to come to the surface. So what? Well, the more receptors there are at the surface, the more synaptic plasticity the neuron is most likely undergoing. Synaptic plasticity is a well-established neural mechanism for learning and memory so understanding the effects of the BDNF molecule and the pathway of communication within the cell can help us understand the complete mechanisms of learning, memory, and related neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. The research I conducted had interesting results that laid the groundwork for a future paper that my mentor published and I was a co-author of the paper.

Now that I’m done bragging, why should you care? Because either as a volunteer or as a member of the public, you can go see ISEF, an awesome event! It’s too late to sign up to be a judge (you have to have a PhD or an MS with 7 years of experience) but you can still volunteer on multiple days of the week! If you can’t or don’t want to volunteer, go see the projects on ISEF Public Day on May 18th! Be prepared to be inspired and blown away. Be prepared to inspire others as you tell them about your life as a USC student.

Published on May 3rd, 2017

Last updated on January 20th, 2021