WARREN, NJ - Warren resident Catherine Chen won first place in the category Animal Sciences and her presentation earned the Grand Prize at the New Jersey Regional Science Fair (NJRSF) on Friday, March 10, and Saturday, March 11, in the College Avenue Gym at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

Chen is currently enrolled in her junior year in the Academy for Health and Medical Sciences at Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School in Bridgewater, NJ.

The NJRSF is a science competition for high school students from Bergen, Essex, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren counties. Students work individually or in groups to create and then present science projects, which pose and attempt to answer a question or problem. The fair featured over 200 innovative projects in areas of science, math, and engineering from over 300 students across New Jersey. 

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Chen said," On March 10-11, 2017, I participated in the fair with my science project I had completed over the summer titled "The Effects of Heart-Specific Downregulation of Histone Deacetylase, Rpd3, on Longevity." I had worked in a molecular biology laboratory at Rutgers-NJMS with fruit flies, investigating a specific gene called Rpd3 and its effect on longevity and lifespan of the flies. I found that manipulating the gene to produce less of the protein in the fly actually extended its lifespan! Since the gene is evolutionarily conserved in humans, my results can be perhaps be applied to humans and lead to methods of extending healthy lifespan in the future! With my research, we may be one step closer to finding our "fountain of youth"!"

After several rounds of judging and a symposium where she presented her work to a panel of judges, Chen discovered that she had won first place in her category, Animal Sciences, and her presentation had earned the Grand Prize: a chance to go to Los Angeles May 14-19, 2017 to present her work to teachers, students, and professionals in the science field from all over the world at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). 

Chen was one of five students chosen for this all-expense paid ISEF trip award.

"I am tremendously excited to share my work with the world," Chen said. "I was also given the Human Genetics Award and a $200 cash prize from the Human Genetics Institute of New Jersey for my insight into the study of genetics.

Overall, it was not only amazing to see how so many students in our state were making exciting and important contributions to the fields of science and math, but it was also eye-opening to learn about several issues affecting the human race and how students were planning to solve them."