Melissa Du, a senior at Cy-Falls High, is one of four area high school students selected as semi-finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search 2014.  The others are Pooja Prasad of Bellaire High School, whose entry altered miR-143 and miR-31 Expression During Colon Cancer Progression; Roma Pradhan of Friendswood High School, whose paper was titled, “Train the Artificial Brain: Diagnosis of Brain Tumors using Neural Networks”; William Wu of Clear Lake High School submitted an entry that focused on identifying geographic belts in the Gulf of Mexico as early predictors for hurricane landfall locations.  Melissa’s presentation is on the role of the FGFR4 genotype in neuroblastoma pathogenesis.

Each was awarded $1,000 and their respective schools each got $1,000.

Melissa says she was inspired to start work on her research project after hearing stories from friends of how they had spent their summers working on research studies.

“I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities that I had, especially living in Houston, which is so close to Texas Medical Center.”  Her project deals with pediatric cancer.

Melissa credits her parents for being supportive throughout.  What does such a bright teenager do for fun?  “I’ve been playing violin for 11 years, and it’s been such a big part of my life.  Up until high school I always thought I would be a violinist when I grew up, but once I got to high school I was exposed to so many different fields that I had never considered.”

The Top 40 finalists will be announced January 22. 

Those students get an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. where they will give their final presentations, and the top winner will be awarded $100,000.  The second place prize is $75,000 and third place is $50,000.

Melissa plans to attend Yale this fall majoring in Engineering.