Matthews resident Michael Yang, 18, recently returned from West Virginia where he spent four weeks as one of two North Carolina delegates to the National Youth Science Camp. Each year, the camp – an honors science leadership program – brings 108 top young scientists from across the country together for lectures and hands-on experiences led by top scientists.
Yang, a 2017 Charlotte Latin graduate, will head to Stanford University in the fall. He hasn’t declared a major yet, but says he’s considering a degree in mathematics and computer science.
“I want to go into research, particularly looking at the mathematical and biological origins of behavior,” said Yang.
He has already made a name for himself in the scientific community as earlier this year his independent research earned him a spot in the top 40 finalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, billed as the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. Yang conducted his research and wrote his paper on “Modeling Protein Population Interactions for Rapid Investigation of Collective Behavior.”
Asked to reword his project into layman’s terms, Yang said, “I created a mathematical model based on how cells make decisions and applied that model to solve other computational problems.”
But his science success doesn’t mean he has ruled out a career that involves the humanities, as he excels in that field as well. Yang has received silver keys and honorable mentions in the Scholastics Art and Writing competitions for his poetry.
“I don’t believe in limiting oneself to being a ‘humanities person’ or a ‘STEM person’; I love writing poems and analyzing texts as much as working on interesting math problems,’ said Yang.
He says the camp helped him hone in on the necessary interplay between science and society. Delegates went on outdoor adventure activities such as climbing, camping and caving.
“I have a much clearer sense of the role that science plays in our society. We talked to a lot of people involved in science policy in Washington, D.C.,” said Yang.
“I found those people really interesting, and the experience has me excited when I consider the role that my research will play in society.”
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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