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Logan High Student Goes To National Science Competition

A Logan High School student is traveling to Washington D.C. to participate in a national science competition. His project was inspired by a friend.

“My project was just enhancing the production of a natural dye using different means,” said 14-year-old Gary Zhan.

Zhan chose to pursue this project because one of his friends is allergic to a common synthetic blue dye.

“Synthetic dyes are pretty harmful to human health,” Zhan said. “However natural dyes are extremely expensive and they require a lot of land. So making dyes through these bacteria is a very effective way to produce them.”

Zhan said one reason why it is uncommon for dyes to be made from bacteria is that there isn’t a lot of research on the subject. Plants and chemical reactions are usually used to synthesize dyes.

For Zhan’s project, he enhanced the production of an already existing dye.

“I introduced a different promoter,” Zhan said. “It’s called a cold shock promoter that only functions at lower temperatures and it helped increase our yield of the blue die.”

Zhan said this discovery means the blue die will be cheaper to produce making it more accessible.

In the future, Zhan said he might want to run a business that conducts scientific studies. Although he may research dye again, right now he is studying nanoparticles.

“Since nanoparticles are so small, you can use them to enhance plant growth and help plants,” Zhan said.

Zhan’s project will be a part of the Broadcom MASTERS Science and Engineering Project Showcase held from Oct. 19-24 in Washington D.C. His project is one of 30 selected from around the country.