SDJA’s Gan finalist in STEM competition

Jessie Gan

WASHINGTON, D.C.  (Press Release) –Broadcom Foundation and Society for Science & the Public announced on Wednesday that San Diego Jewish Academy student Jessie Gan has been named a Top 30 finalist in the Broadcom MASTERS® — the nation’s most prestigious Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) competition for middle school students. Jessie was selected by a panel of distinguished scientists and engineers from a record high of 2,499 applicants in 37 states, Puerto Rico and the Department of Defense overseas.

Jessie will travel to Washington, D.C. for the Broadcom MASTERS final competition from October 19-25 to compete for more than $100,000 in awards, including a top prize of $25,000.  the Broadcom MASTERS is a program founded and produced by the Society for Science & the Public that seeks to inspire young scientists, engineers and innovators who will solve the grand challenges of the future.

Following is a description of Jessie’s project taken from the Broadcom MASTERS website:

Jessie Gan, 8th Grade
San Diego Jewish Academy: San Diego, CA
Natural Antioxidant and Nano-Antioxidant Effects Against Oxidative Stress

Project Background: Antioxidants can stop a chemical reaction called oxidation. That process steals electrons from molecules, and in living organisms it can cause cell damage. That damage can lead to a variety of chronic diseases. And some of those diseases can be deadly. Examples include atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cancer. When Jessie’s grandfather had lung cancer, his doctors suggested that he try nano-antioxidants. Those are antioxidants in the form of teeny, tiny particles. They’re measured on the scale of billionths of a meter. Jessie notes that existing research hasn’t done a complete job so far to compare different antioxidants and nano-oxidants to each other. She wanted to help fill that knowledge gap.

Tactics and Results: Jessie figured that yeast cells protected by antioxidants would survive better. Jessie gave different doses to groups of yeast in a solution. Some groups got one of four natural antioxidants. Those chemicals were catechins in green tea, allicin in garlic, vitamin C, and glutathione. Other groups got doses of one of three nano-antioxidants. Those substances were gold nanoparticles, Carbon 60, and MitoQ. Jessie had separate control groups as well. After the test groups got their doses, Jessie exposed them to hydrogen peroxide. That chemical is an oxidizing agent. Then Jessie saw how each group fared. To do that, she measured the optical density of each group’s solution. A solution with more live cells would transmit less light and be less see-through. Green tea turned out to be the most effective natural antioxidant, she reports. Carbon 60 worked best among the nano-antioxidants. The nano-antioxidants were generally superior to the natural ones, she notes. Jessie thinks a combination of the two types of substances “could be a promising therapy.”

Other Interests: “I enjoy writing novels because it immerses me in unreachable worlds and multiple lives,” Jessie says. She has written two books, “Misty” and “Liun Frec.” Jessie also plays the piano and flute. Her athletic activities include swimming, Tae Kwon-Do, and running track and cross country. “I want to be a surgeon because it allows me to save the valuable lives of many people in a hands-on way,” she says.


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