Junior Places as Finalist in Science Competition

Katrina Kovalik

While many Miramonte students lounged around the house on the Sunday afternoon of Nov. 14, or maybe struggled over a chemistry lab, junior Eric Wu was at the California Institute of Technology presenting his research on bio-engineering to 12 judges, all with PhDs. Have you noticed a large blue banner tacked on the fence near the entrance to the school that proudly proclaims Miramonte as the home of a Siemens competition regional finalist? That sign is referring to our very own Eric Wu.

All participants in the competition had to conduct research at a university, write an 18-page report and present their findings to a panel of judges. According to Wu, other contestants explored everything from monitoring biological pathways with computers to working with speech recognition computer programs.

On Sunday afternoons this past summer and fall, Wu and his partner, Campolindo junior Hanna Lee, conducted research in a lab at UC Berkeley. Their project consisted of examining microfluidic chips and fusing cells with mouse embryonic stem cells.

“We hope we can help people understand the process [of cellular fusion] better,” said Wu. “We believe that this process could create clinically useful cells to help cure diseases in humans.”
Wu and Lee were very lucky to have the support of Lee’s dad, a Berkeley professor, and the Cal graduate students who worked in the same lab. The pair got to borrow the petri dishes and cell samples from college students in the lab.

“It was very slow research,” said Wu. “Sometimes you get perfect results, and sometimes you don’t. It’s very unpredictable.”

Ever since elementary school, Wu’s parents encouraged him to study science. He reads books of all different scientific topics in his own time and recently studied biology on his own.

“Eric’s shy, studious and has a great sense of humor, but it’s very subtle,” said Jennifer Moore, Wu’s AP Chemistry teacher. “He’s very creative and I can see him going into a field involving pure research.”
In the future, Wu definitely sees himself as having a career in science, and admitted that he’s leaning towards a job in engineering, but wants to avoid the field of medicine altogether.