Story of a 15-year old scientist: How it all began – EuroScientist

Children and young adults these days have awide range of possibilities how to spend their leisure time. Some of us like to watch movies, some of us enjoy playing aflute and some of us prefer to go laboratories, put on a white coat and carry out an experiment. Zuzana Hudov, a15-year old student from Slovakia, fell into the category of teenagers who preferred going to labs and make experiments. Even though this is just onestory it once may be astory of hundreds of young aspiring students.

As alittle child Zuzanawas not much different from all the other kids in the kindergarten. Shewas playful, energetic and endlessly curious about the world surrounding her. However, curiosity diverted from the behaviour of her classmates. Most of the kids liked to explore the outside world, yet Zuzanawas more fascinated about the things that could not be understood by just looking at them. Shewould spend hours and hours browsing through an old Encyclopedia, looking at the pictures of human body, homogenesis phases and even insect behaviour. Her restless mind caused her agreat deal of problems in kindergarten since sheoften refused to go to bed during the afternoon sleep-time and, often, she would even take abook from the small kindergarten library and read it, hidden under the duvet, while other kids were sleeping. When Zuzana was five, her mother realised that the kindergarten was noplace for her daugther, and therefore, with the approval of experts, Zuzana was admitted to primary school ayear earlier than regular . That was where the real journey started, says Zuzana.

The competitive atmosphere of school brought Zuzanas ambitions and her desire to thrive to life. Even though shewas more than ayear younger than her classmates, she always perfomed very well and was one of the best pupils in her class. Although Zuzanastill preferred to read books, shefelt aresponsibility for the community and mediated with teachers and pupils about potential improvements to make; therefore she was electedclass representative.

Until the age of eleven her hobbies were pretty general: reading, playing the piano and dancing. Zuzanas interests changed when she was in sixth grade, as at that time, biology and chemistry classes were added to school curriculum. Zuzana was fascinated by the two new subjects and used to spend several hours each day to read popular science books and magazines. At the age of twelve sheperformed her first study about human body mass index (BMI) and obesity and took part in a local competition.

Due to her ambition and success in and outside school, she got the chance to study at GBAS Suany, aprestigious Slovak bilingual grammar school, where she started at the age of thirteen, and joined classes with classmates 3 years older than her.

During the biology classes, especially on the topics of neuroscience and genetics, Zuzana realised that although her desire for more knowledge was being fulfilled, her ambitions to do her own investigations and actuallycontribute to science were not satisfied. While looking for opportunities to collaborate with reasearch labs, she discovered that in many Western countries it is not uncommon for youngstudents to doscientific internships. She started contacting research institutions in Slovakia, but never was selected because of her young age. Consequently she started to applyoutside her home country and was eventually accepted as a summer intern at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic at the Department of Histology and Embryology.

The laboratories that gave Zuzana this opportunity was lead by Mgr. Da Bohaiakov, Ph.D. and focused on neurogenesis research. The project she worked on was the immunofluorescent analysis of in vitro neural rosette formation from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The aim of her research was to analyse the markers of neural rosette formation, which is a2D in vitro model of human neurogenesis. During the neurulation phase of embryogenesis there are many things than may go wrong, which can lead to neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida. NTDs are very dangerous and cause alot of pain and suffering in an individuals life. However, these days we are not only unable to treat these disorders, but we are not even able to observe the neurulation process non-invasively. That is why scientists are trying to developwith the in vitro solutions, which neural rosettes might potentially be.

Zuzanas first laboratory internship marked some new beginnings in her life such as the her first successfull research project, and afirst scientific work that won the 3rd place at the national Stredokolsk Odborn innos (High School Scientific Activity). At the age of 15 shewas the youngest participant in history.

The success of her first project was the incentive for Zuzanato participate in more scientific activities; therefore during the following term she launched abiology club at her school, took part in an international DNA essay contest where she finished among the top ten participants and carried out more work in a laboratory and completed one more internship.

In spite of all her success Zuzana still feels the responsibility for her community and she thinks that if shecould achieve all of this, why not any other student in the world? This is the reason why she decided to publish her story

Iam certainly no better than any other child, she says, yet Iwas lucky, Ihad an idea and enough passion not to give up, even though the circumstances were against me.

Zuzana hopes that her story can motivate her fellow pupils and she urges parents to foster the curiosity and ideas of their children. Additionally she wants to send the message that is importnat to look outside your own surrounding and use the possibilities Europe of today gives to everyone.

By Zuzana Hudacova

Featured image credit: Zuzana Hudov

Like Loading...

Related Posts

Go here to see the original:
Story of a 15-year old scientist: How it all began - EuroScientist

Related Post