Pictured: Henry Wu, Vice President of Engineering and Sophia Li

Don’t miss the previous interviews with Anish Singhani and Thomas Chow.

Sophia, 16, was selected as the senior level Most Creative Award winner with her partner, Thomas Chow, for their project on “Engineering the Surface Microstructure of Implants to Enhance Bone Production”.

Q: What was the main focus of your research?
SL:
We cultured stem cells on different patterned surfaces to determine which pattern could grow the most bone. This was to address a problem in bone implants; sometimes, they loosen or wear because the bone cells and implant do not interlock correctly, so we tested to see whether a patterned surface could improve the bone matrix-implant interlocking.

Q: Why did you select this topic?
SL:
I knew people who had worked with microtopography to regulate cell functions before. I haven't studied bones before, but it was brand new and sounded interesting. I wanted to apply what I knew people had done before to an area that was new to me.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of this project?
SL:
The most challenging aspect of completing the project was probably formatting it correctly. The content was already there because we had written a manuscript before, but formatting it into a presentable poster was a challenge.

Q: Have you entered other science fairs?
SL:
I have never entered a science fair before, but I enjoyed the Contra Costa one thoroughly!

Q: With your first science fair completed, would you consider doing another one?
SL:
Yes! I will probably enter next year's fair with a new project!

Q: What are your favorite classes in school?
SL:
AP Computer Science and AP Chemistry

Q: When you aren’t working on bone implant research, what do you like to do?
SL:
Outside of school, I like watching sports (gymnastics and basketball). I also play piano and chess for fun and mental stimulation.