Lincoln Heights -- You won't find Lincoln High junior Michael Tu taking it easy this summer in shorts and a t-shirt this summer. Instead, the 16-year-old will be wearing a white lab coat while working away at a research center at UC Davis.
Michael is among 40 high achieving high school sophomores and juniors attending the UC Davis Young Scholars Program, a six-week program that introduces students to the world of original research in the biological and natural sciences.
Each student works on an individual project and prepares a professional-level research paper and presentation about his or her work.
Michael -- who is interested in the field of microbiology specifically antibiotic resistance -- is working with Carine Marshall, a postdoctoral researcher, to "assess the regulation by the circadian clock in sunflower floret development." Huh? We will let a statement from UC Davis explain what Michael will be up to:
"The circadian clock is essentially a constant 24-hour biological time keeper in most organisms that anticipates environmental changes and regulates responses to those changes. The sunflower is actually a composite flower, meaning it’s one big cluster of smaller flowers and in the middle are where disc florets can be found. Michael is currently studying these disc florets under different temperatures and different photocycles ( when a period of light occurs) to see if disc floret development is circadian clock regulated or due to environmental cues, or possibly both. His research in the plant circadian clock could help farmers plant crops more efficiently to increase biomass."
To qualify for the program, students must have a strong academic record, have taken biology and two years of college preparatory mathematics, and recommendations from teachers. In addition, applicants must write a personal essay.