Blake's Brainiacs: Local freshman hopes to help veterans through science experiment

By Kaiti Blake - Meteorologist, Priscilla Carraman - Producer

Using science to serve others is the inspiration behind one local high school student's nationally recognized science experiment.

Serving others is also part of how 15-year-old Laura Reilly-Sanchez became a top 30 finalist at the 2018 Broadcom Masters competition in Washington, D.C, last month.

Laura, who is currently a freshman at Health Careers High School, used her background in Girl Scouts and her time spent volunteering to come up with a unique science experiment.

"I volunteer at the VA hospital and I've noticed that a lot of the veterans have cuts, wounds, burns, amputations, etc., so that made me wonder, 'How can I help these veterans?'" Laura said.

Her curiosity helped her develop a wound-healing experiment using a type of worm called planaria Dugesia — or flat worms — tilapia skin and UV light.

"My results were that the tilapia skin and UV light help with the rate of wound healing, which made it, like, faster, so maybe this could help in humans," Laura said.

With encouragement from Laura's parents and teachers, she made it all the way to Washington, D.C., where she met Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump.

"She had said that veterans are such an important part of our community and have done so much for us, so it's really important that we give back to them and help them in any way that we can," Laura said.

Laura plans to continue her path in science and is already working on her next project — which involved fatty liver disease — with Dr. Zheng, MD, at UT Health & Science Center.

Laura is hoping to make it back to Washington next year, where she would compete against other high school students from across the country.

In 10 years, Laura hopes to become a physician like her mother, leading the way for other young women in STEM, because in her own words, "Science is for everyone, no matter who you are."

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