Gold Coast Science Student One of the World's Best

Queensland Academy for Health Sciences Year 12 student Angie Zhou has competed against the world’s best students at the 2020 International Science Olympiad. Angie represented Australia as a member of our national team and is the first Queensland student to have been chosen in seven years.

Students selected for the Olympiad teams are recognised as some of the brightest young scientists in the world and Angie is no exception. She outperformed 1,800 other biology students from 295 schools in the qualifying exams and made the shortlist of 24 students to participate in the demanding Olympiads Summer School program, where she placed as one of Australia’s top four students.

Science Olympiad

The Science Olympiad is designed to provide rewarding opportunities for students to extend themselves way beyond school science through challenging exams, stimulating extensions, enrichment programs and international competitions.

“Even though it didn’t count towards my school grades I certainly felt some pressure as I was representing Australia competing against 300 or so other students from around the world. I got a merit award, which I think placed me in top 50%”, Angie says.

Cancer research

Angie’s success on the world stage follows on from last year’s High School Cancer Competition, where she placed 2nd nationally. Her prize was an invitation to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Centre in Melbourne, where Angie spent a week with a post-doctorate fellow working in the facility’s research lab.

Angie’s experience at the Research Centre led her into investigating nanobodies, a small version of an antibody that can attach itself to a receptor. “I designed this nanobody so that it would attach itself to a breast cancer cell. I was checking to see that once it was attached if it would be taken in by the cancer cell. Essentially, what this means for the future is that we could attach a drug to this nanobody which could then take the drug directly to the cancer cell without harming healthy cells along the way.”

Now that Angie is about to graduate from high school, it’s clear her extracurricular experiences are starting to shape her career direction. “Before I started my whole Olympiad journey, I was only interested in scientific research. Afterwards, I realised that the human body is so interesting – I would love to study it more in the future.”

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