• Lilly Chin
  • The Westminster Schools, Senior
Lilly Chin
Lilly Chin

Perhaps Lilly Chin was destined to love science from the time she was a toddler in her parents’ lab at Emory University.

“One day I went up to my dad and asked, ‘Hey, what are you doing at that microscope?’” Lilly said. “He scraped some of my cheek cells and put them on a slide under the microscope and I remember he was pointing out, ‘Oh here’s the nucleus, here’s the mitochondria’ … That really stands out in my mind as the moment I knew I really wanted to do science in the future.”

Since preschool, Lilly has developed a passion for math and science – first programming, then robotics, then starting on her first mathematics research project during her freshman year at Westminster. Over the past two years, Lilly has immersed herself in research projects in biology and bioengineering.

After her biological research at Emory, in which she studied cancer cells, Lilly created a computer model to determine what would heal wounds fastest.

“One thing I noticed in my internship experience is that there’s actually a pretty big gap between biology and engineering,” Lilly said. “I’d like to work toward connecting the two disciplines.”

Chris Harrow, who taught Lilly Honors Calculus when she was a freshman, describes her as one of his most talented and enthusiastic students in the course. Class problems “simply dissolved in the face of the brute force of Lilly’s fast, experienced, creative, determined mind,” Harrow wrote in a letter recommending Lilly. “Lilly Chin is without equal as the most eager, independent learner I’ve known in my 23-year career,” he wrote.

Lilly returned his admiration as Westminster’s STAR student for 2013, an honor usually awarded to the senior with the highest SAT score in the class. She named Harrow STAR teacher.

Lilly’s work has won her acclaim beyond Westminster. This year, she was among 40 finalists in the national Intel Science Talent Search. She won a $7,500 prize and will compete for prizes of up to $100,000. She was scheduled to be in Washington, D.C., March 7 through 13 for the final round of competition.

Although competition is enjoyable for Lilly, her passion surpasses any desire for victory. “It’s fun just to see where you stand,” Lilly said. “It’s never really cutthroat – I have a lot of friends I’ve met through competition.”

While she devotes most of her time to research, she also commits to a host of other extracurricular activities, such as tutoring through Mu Alpha Theta, a math honors society; serving as lead coder and captain for the robotics team; and attending various math competitions.

What’s Next:

Lilly has already been accepted to MIT, Caltech, Georgia Tech and Emory, but is waiting to hear back from other schools before a final decision.

–Elizabeth Wilkes