According to Interaksyon, Arianwen Rollan, a 17-year old student of Cebu City National High School, has won the First Award presented by the Qatar Foundation for Research and Development in Medical Science at the recently concluded Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).
Rollan was honored for her research on the anti-tumor properties of malunggay (moringa) seeds.
A global high school science research competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair drew some 1,700 participants from over 77 countries this May.
The top Intel honor went to Han Jie Wang, 18, from Canada, for developing microbial fuel cells that "more efficiently convert organic waste into electricity," according to a press release from Intel.
Wang received the first place Gordon E. Moore Award and a $75,000 prize money for his work.
"Intel sees the potential in aspiring young people who have an unquenchable curiosity in the things around them. We are proud that this curiosity resulted in Arianwen's research being recognized in this year's ISEF among other projects from young innovators around the world," said Intel Philippines Country Manager Calum Chisholm.
Rollan was one of eight students from the Philippines who submitted their work. Aside from the award, she also received $1,000 for her study.
"What inspired me to conduct this study was that a lot of people die of cancer. One of those was my grandmother, and my sister was also diagnosed with a tumor," the 17-year-old student told InterAksyon in an interview conducted via e-mail.
She was also exposed to the experience of cancer patients because her mother was a doctor, and she would see how frail they became because of complications from chemotherapy.
That prompted Rollan to seek a less harmful and more inexpensive alternative.
In this interview, she recounts her experience in the competition, and reveals her plans in connection with her award-winning research.
InterAksyon.com: Tell us about yourself.
Rollan: I'm Arian, I'm 17, and I'm just very happy that I have been given this opportunity to represent my country in this very prestigious competition.
Have you always been interested in science and research?
Yes. Also, I attend a science high school, so we have extra subjects. For example, not all other schools have courses or subjects on research, or they don't really underscore research that much. In our school, research is very important. That is one thing that made me more inclined towards science and research.
What do you plan to take up in college?
Right now, since we have the K-to-12, my strand is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). I am not really sure about what specific field I'm going to pursue, but right now, I'm thinking of taking up biology as a steppingstone to medical studies. [I want to] be an OB-Gyn and also undertake further research on in-vitro fertilization. That's what I'm thinking of right now, but I still think this could change.
What are your hobbies?
I love reading and watching movies. I also like participating in programs inclined toward journalism, leadership and citizenship, and youth development programs. I also love traveling and building relationships with people from other cultures. I have experienced an international exchange program in Thailand. I met a grand winner there in their school, so I thought it was a sign. I was also able to meet the students who worked on that project. I really love traveling and communicating with people who are different from me.
How did you come up with the idea of doing research on malunggay?
What inspired me to conduct this study was that there have been a lot of people that died because of cancer. Personally, that's one thing that really pushed me to pursue my project. Second, is that I have observed many people who could not afford the medications needed, because these are very expensive. Plus, only a few of these cancer medicines have minimal side effects. When you take these medicines, they may make you better, but the side effects are also very bad. This is why I thought of a plant that is locally and widely available – the malunggay seed – to test it for its anti tumor potential. My sister was the one who started this [study]. She started it with another assay and her model was the sea urchin. At that point, she was still investigating the leaves, the bark and the seed. She was observing the effect of the extract on the mitotic activity of the sea urchin's cells. She found out that the seeds had the best effect amongst the three, which is why I proceeded to another study and the model I used was the chick embryo. It's a higher class of organism, and it's also used to test if a substance is pro or anti angiogenic [the physiological process through which new blood vessels form from pre-existing ones]. Continue reading here