Jeffery Chen, 17, just won $400,000 in educational prizes for sharing his love of science with the world. Now, with the help of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center, he’s bringing that love back to his high school, with the gift of a state-of-the-art lab space.
Chen, of Burlingame, Calif., was the winner of the fifth annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a global competition where high schoolers are tasked with producing a video that explains any topic in science or math that has captured their interest. For his winning video, Chen chose to introduce viewers to the neutrino particle and its implications for astronomy.
“Science constantly evolves and gives us new perspectives on why the universe behaves the way it does, and we’re fortunate to live in a time where the mysteries of the cosmos are being unlocked before our very eyes,” Chen said during the awards ceremony at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.
As this year’s winner, Chen, a senior at Burlingame High School, earned a $250,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 gift for his mentor and science teacher, Heather Johnson. Chen’s school will also receive a new lab designed by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center and valued at $100,000.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is just one part of the larger Breakthrough Prizes, which were presented on November 3rd. Past Breakthrough Prize winners include CSHL’s Professor Adrian Krainer, whose work with RNA splicing led to the development of the first-ever treatment for deadly spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).