Senior Lilly Chin honored through Intel’s Science Talent Search

By Maya Bradford

It’s been a whirlwind month for senior Lilly Chin. After years of hard work, Chin has been selected from the best of the nation as a finalist in Intel’s Science Talent Search due to her work with Dr. Michael Leamy of Georgia Tech.

“I still can’t believe it,” said Chin. “From the whole country, they chose 300 semifinalists, and from those people, they chose 40 people. So I’m going to go to Washington to meet the president. I just can’t believe it!”

Chin discovered her love of science and math at an early age.

“I still remember, in second grade, this random elementary school had a math tournament and so I went there and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m pretty good at this!’” said Chin. “So through junior high and high school I kept pursuing it.” But while Chin may be gifted, it’s not always easy.

“There’s that stereotype: Asians, they’re so smart already, they don’t have to work hard,” said Chin. “It’s not like that – there’s a lot of work involved.”

The research was hard work for Chin, but for others, simply understanding exactly what she did is hard. According to the news feature on Chin’s work on the Westminster website, Chin “simulated cell behavior by calculating the local forces acting on each cell to see the cell’s change in position over time.”

        “So basically, when you get a cut, the cells move together to create a wound,” said Chin, describing how she made models of cells and compared their behavior with mechanical and chemical forces.

“I found out that a chemical alone moves really slowly,” said Chin, “and so does a mechanical, but by combining them, [they actually reached] a reasonable speed.”

In addition to being a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search, Chin has received the Aspirations in Computing award from the National Center for Women & Information Technology Coalition, and she captains the Robotics Team.

Chin’s secret to success? “I think it’s working hard and just never saying no to any opportunity that comes up.”