When I was seventeen, it was a very good year. Actually, that’s a flat out lie. When I was seventeen I was probably wallowing in self-important despair so trivial that now, years later, I can’t even remember if I was wallowing or not.
The point I’m getting at here is that I wasn’t doing anything productive, much less anything that could save countless lives and contribute to a field of science that is more important now than it has ever been.
That’s what Angela Zhang was doing, and now, she’s $100,000 the richer for it. Also, she can say she’s created a nanoparticle, one that kills cancer, for what that’s worth (Spoiler: It’s worth a lot).
The $100,000 Zhang earned comes with first prize in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. Her project, “Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells,” was apparently as complex, thorough, and revolutionary as it sounds. The nanoparticle Zhang created is already being referred to as something of a “swiss army knife” in the area of cancer treatment. That’s not to say it’s dull and rusty because I you didn’t take care of it when I was you were out camping, but rather that it has a whole bunch of useful applications.
The nanoparticle is delivered to tumors via the drug salinomycin where it kills cancer cells and deposits gold and iron-oxide materials to help with MRI imaging. Not only is this impressive in its own right, but let me remind you this girl is 17. She’s got a lot of time ahead of her. She spent about 1,000 hours developing this particle since 2009 (when she must have been 15) and she wants to continue to study chemical engineering, biomedial engineering, or physics. She hopes to someday be a research professor. Thank god, because if she said she wanted to be a poet, we might have a problem on our hands. If she’s accomplished this by 17, there’s virtually no doubt we’ll see some further innovations coming from Zhang in the future.
In the meantime, just take a moment to think about what you’ve done with your life. But only a moment; any longer than that and it starts to get depressing.