Samantha Marquez has a passion for science, and has had it for a long time. She is the daughter of a chemist and chemical engineer, so it is easy to say she is naturally scientific.
The 16-year-old has always been inquisitive, but her curiosity seemed to grow in 7th grade when her middle school science teacher gave a project to her class.
"She said, 'I want you guys to go out and I want you to review scientific papers, published papers, and summarize it and come up with suggestions of what could be their next step,'" said Marquez.
From those papers, she designed what she calls a "celloidosome"- a 3-D microtissue that functions more like an organ than individual cells. She says a celloidosome would come in handy in tissue regeneration.
"What a lot of people do is that they create these isolates. These are cell clusters. What happens when you create a cluster is that you have cells on the inside. Those cells don't get oxygen. They actually die and they trigger the surrounding cells to die too. So, the celloidosome, because of how it is structured, because of its core shell structure, you are able to transfer oxygen and nutrients to all of the cells at the same time," said Marquez.
Samantha is now busy trying to take the celloidosome to the next step. She recently headed to the International Space Olympics in Russia to present a proposal for taking the celloidosome to the international space station for more research.
She won first place.
Samantha says her career is a toss-up between biophysics or neuroscience. She also plans to continue to be a "science advocate", speaking to elementary, middle, and high school students about what she does, and why they, especially young girls, should consider careers in science.
"Having the opportunity to learn from others and then having others learn from me, that kind of chain reaction, is something that I'm hoping will be able to continue for a while," said Marquez.
Samantha is one of the youngest members of Sigma Xi, an international research honor society. She also has seven patents, and she is working on the eighth patent.
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