Jenks senior recognized as one of nation’s top young scientists
Most 18-year-old high school seniors are busy on Snapchat or Instagram, but Jenks High School student Michael Hwang is being recognized as one of the top young scientists in the nation.
Hwang was recently named one of the top 300 scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, which is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competitions in the country.
Hwang and Jenks High School were awarded $2,000 apiece for the Jenks senior being named one of the top 300 high school scientists.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be selected,” Hwang said. “I wasn’t expecting this at all, and I feel very humbled and privileged to be chosen.”
Hwang is one of just two high school seniors from Oklahoma to receive the honor. Brendan Crotty of Muskogee and Hickory Hill Academy Homeschool was the other recipient from the Sooner state.
The title of Hwang’s project he submitted in the competition is “Characterizing Matcha Green Tea as an Anti-Cancer Agent”.
Hwang has been conducting research on this topic since he was a junior in high school at the University of Tulsa. The JHS student would spend most of his weekdays from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. prior to the start of school in a science lab at TU working on his project.
Hwang has been doing research at Tulsa since his sophomore year following his experience at Bio-Technology Camp at Stonybrook University in New York, where he learned how to and fell-in love with doing research.
Hwang first heard about the prestigious competition at a national science fair he attended several years ago. Hwang wrote a 17-page paper on his project along with numerous essays to submit his project for the competition.
Hwang’s research focuses on the properties of matcha green tea and how human cells metabolize certain nutrients. The 18-year old is looking for compounds in matcha green tea that could stop cancerous cells from metabolizing and spreading, while allowing healthy cells to multiply and prosper.
On Jan. 22, 40 finalists will be chosen from the field of 300 scholars. Finalists receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C in March where they will compete for more than $1.8 million in awards provided by Regeneron. The high school students will also present their research to many of the nation’s top scientific experts as well as elected officials.
On top of his success in research lab, Hwang aced the ACT exam with a perfect score of 36 during his junior year in high school.
Hwang says he is undecided on where he would like to attend college, but he hopes to make that decision soon.
“I want to contribute to the world in some way, and I think in order to contribute, you have to find a new, innovative way to do something,” Hwang said. “This competition really fosters people who have the potential to change the world.”
Alumni of the Regeneron Science Talent Search include recipients of the world’s most coveted science and math honors, including 13 Nobel Prize winners, 11 National Medals of Science, and 21 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships.
“Jenks provides an enormous amount of resources for science and science education,” Hwang said. “I’ve always had teachers who were extremely helpful, who believed in me and challenged me. I’ve learned so much in my classes here and I’m really grateful for the foundation Jenks has helped me to build over the years.”