Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Son of an Engineer, Physician Already Doing Hard Research

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Son of an Engineer, Physician Already Doing Hard Research

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

Andrew Joseph's father, Michael, is an electrical engineer. His mother, Madeline, is a pediatrician at Shands Jacksonville.

So when Andrew, a 17-year-old Episcopal School of Jacksonville senior, enrolled in the honors science research class as a 10th grader, he decided he wanted a research project that combined both disciplines.

For the last three years, he has been working on that project, which carries the intimidating title "The Genetic Engineering of the Oryza sativa Plant carry the Escherichia coli Genes Producing Trehalose."

When he explains it to a layman, it makes more sense. He's been trying to take genes from a particular hardy bacteria, clone the genes and implant them in a type of rice to determine if the rice will then be more resistant to environmental stresses like extreme heat or cold, lack of moisture or poor soil.

He hasn't finished the project - he's yet to actually grow genetically altered rice though he has managed to make genetically altered seeds. So he's not sure if he'll have time to grow the rice and test whether its alteration makes it more resistant to stress before he goes to college next fall.

"It's a very difficult process," Joseph said. "I've had to keep repeating steps. I can't see myself doing this in college."

Still, he has accomplished enough in the last three years to impress judges in the Intel Science Talent Search, who named him one of 300 semifinalists out of 1,839 applicants nationwide. Both he and Episcopal will receive $1,000 as a result. Joseph already knows he isn't one of the 40 finalists for the $100,000 first-place prize.

Joseph said he got the idea for his project when he was a 10th grader while reading a scientific journal "article about scientists who had done something similar to create disease-resistant wheat."

Knowing that the E coli bacteria is "the rat of biotechnology," he decided to try to isolate and clone the genes that were responsible for making the bacteria so hardy. …

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