Clague 8th grader one of 30 finalists in national STEM competition

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

Those who know Clague eighth grader Judy Bai probably aren’t surprised to learn she is one of 30 finalists in a national STEM competition.

After all, when she was in fifth grade, Judy memorized and recited the entire periodic table of elements.

Judy’s a finalist in the 2021 Broadcom MASTERS—the nation’s premier STEM competition for middle school students.

The Broadcom MASTERS inspires young scientists, engineers and innovators to solve the grand challenges of the 21st Century.

Judy titled her research project (which she wrote in seventh grade): “Computational Prediction of COVID-19 Risky Genes Associated with Lung Cancer.”

Judy chose the subject because of her interest in conducting research and in the medical field. Her father is a researcher in genetics, and her mother works as a nurse at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. She says her father, Yongsheng Bai, is her mentor and inspiration.

“During the pandemic, my mother would always tell me about her respiratory illness patients passing away due to COVID-19,” Judy notes. “I found that quite saddening, and I decided to do research on the identification of COVID-19 risky genes associated with lung cancer in hopes to help reveal common genetic causes of both diseases. I am very passionate about medical concepts, so I was fully engaged in my research project and excited to analyze my findings. I decided to join the competition to share my findings and exchange research with my peers and the research community.”

She says she found herself loving the STEM field about three years ago, loves medical concepts, and hopes to be a pediatrician when she grows up.

“The way STEM is interconnected in all our lives and how it brings people together never fails to amaze me,” she says. “I love how every day in STEM will always be different and exciting, and a new breakthrough is just waiting to be discovered.”

Judy says she’s no fan of repetitive and boring patterns.

“A challenge will always catch my attention, keep me motivated, and ready to learn no matter where I am—which is STEM research,” she says.

Judy and the other 29 finalists will participate in team challenges in addition to being judged on their science research projects during a virtual competition next week. All finalists receive a $500 cash award and will compete next week for more awards.

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