DIX HILLS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Three aspiring teen scientists are well on their way to reaching their ambitions. On Tuesday, they won the top prize in the prestigious Siemens National Science Competition in Washington D.C.
16-year-old Jillian Parker squealed excitedly when she realized that she and her fellow high school classmates had beaten out thousands of contestants from across the nation to win the contest’s top prize of $100,000.
“I would also like to thank our two partners,” she said during her acceptance speech. “There is no way I would be able to do this without them.”
Parker collaborated with classmates Jai Chen Kee and Arooba Ahmed to uncover the previously unknown role a specific protein has for potential treatments for autism, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
They carried out their research under the guidance of science teachers at Half Hollow Hills High School in Suffolk County.
“We have these three wonderful young ladies who dedicated an entire summer for doing work on this particular research project, so we’re over the moon about their success,” Science Director Chris Fogarazzo said.
The girls spoke via phone just before they boarded a plane to return home.
“We could not believe it was happening,” Ahmed said. “It was extremely exhilarating to have that moment.”
The young scholars say they’re now being tutored by top scientists at Stony Brook University. And don’t forget the helping hand from their dedicated parents.
“For our parents for driving us to Stony Brook every day and for having our backs,” Lee said.
They’re still just juniors in high school, but the brainy young ladies say they’ll split their prize money equally to pay for college to fulfill their ambitions to become doctors and scientists.