In the spring of 2020, Adriane Thompson ’20 placed 8th out of 300 entries from across the country, and awarded $60,000, in the 79th Regeneron Science Talent Search. Her project, titled “Differentially expressed genes from RNA-seq identify both RNA polymerase IV- and dicer-like3- independent regulatory pathways in Zea mays, verified through qPCR and bioinformatic analyses of novel gene classes,” was selected from nearly 2,000 entries from across the country. Thompson, the only finalist from Ohio, shares in her own words how a love for scientific research led her to enter the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and mathematics competition for high school seniors with the swagger of a Jag.
I came to Wellington to get new opportunities, to challenge myself, and interact with teachers and the outside world in ways I never would have been able to in a public school. In one of my first meetings with Dr. Jay Hollick, professor of molecular genetics at The Ohio State University, he filled an expansive whiteboard with examples of proteins that cut DNA into microscopic fragments, and diagrams of genes that could jump from one location in the genome to another all on their own, I felt overwhelmed. As I bombarded my enthusiastic mentors with questions, I became comfortable with the material that originally dispirited me, and eventually found I understood what I was doing, and why it was important.
I was thrilled to receive a full-time fellowship to work at OSU over the summer. As I came to the end of my time in the lab, which culminated in presenting at an undergraduate symposium, it hit me the vast amount of research I had accomplished. I had gone from nervously listening in the back of a lab meeting, racking my brain trying to remember what gluthianine s-transferase way, to discussing and presenting my research to a crowd of peers. And as my confidence in my work and understanding grew, with it blossomed my determination to pursue opportunities in research.
I figured my attempts in the Regeneron Science Talent Search would be futile, but nevertheless spent hours recalling the protocols and procedures I had completed and finalized my work with a 20-page paper summarizing my findings. I was thrilled to see how my months of work came together to build a story; how the days of experimentations blended together into the narrative of my research.
The Science Talent Search is especially unique, because it brings together students who have had the opportunity to perform graduate level research, with some even patenting their projects, working with national entities like NASA, and funding their own STEM-related start-ups. I am honored to be selected as one of these finalists, and hope to spread both the significance of research as well as the importance of science and investigation in everyday life.
My goal, in college and beyond, is not just to gain insights through independent research, but to spread my love for learning to the people around me. Science doesn’t just answer questions, it raises them, and I know that by inspiring and working with young generations, I can help foster a society with an appetite for curiosity.