Dec. 9, 2015
HPHS Students Place 3rd in National Science Research Competition
Helen Zhang and Robert Luo earn $40,000 scholarship for leukemia study
HPHS students Helen Zhang and Robert Luo won a $40,000 scholarship for their study on the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia.

Highland Park High School students Helen Zhang and Robert Luo have placed third in the 2015 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. The announcement was made yesterday at the 2015 Innovation Summit held in Washington, D.C.

The Siemens Competition is the nation's premier science research competition for high school students. Zhang, an HPHS senior, and Luo, a junior, were honored for their research that identified a new potential target for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemiaAcute myeloid leukemia is the most common adult acute leukemia and a life-threatening disease. Zhang and Luo are interested in studying the disease for a number of reasons, including family experiences with cancer and the science of the topic.

By placing third, Zhang and Luo will share a $40,000 scholarship. The students had already split a $3,000 award for their research at the regional level of the competition, which included making a presentation to a panel of judges at UT-Austin. The students' mentor for the research is Dr. Mi Deng, an instructor at UT-Southwestern.

"Acute myeloid leukemia is a remarkably difficult cancer to treat, which makes Robert and Helen's research results that much more valuable," said regional competition judge Jason Upton, Assistant Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Professor at UT-Austin. "New ideas and approaches to treatment are critically important. The direction of Robert and Helen's results is intriguing and provides a solid foundation on which to build."

Zhang plans on majoring in biology in college and aspires to be a physician-scientist. She is a co-captain of the HPHS Debate Team, volunteers at UT-Southwestern and participates in taekwondo. She has also been recognized as a National Merit Scholar.

Luo aspires to be either a doctor, a computational chemist or a software engineer. He is a member of the Academic Decathlon team, tutors underserved children and plays violin in the Dallas Asian American Youth Orchestra.

"To say that we are proud of Helen and Robert would be an understatement," said HPISD Superintendent Dr. Tom Trigg. "They are achieving at the highest levels nationally, showing just what our students can accomplish when they significantly apply themselves to a worthwhile mission. More than that, their success is a testament to the strong science curriculum and instruction available in Highland Park ISD."

Click here to view footage from Zhang and Luo's presentation at the national competition.