Youth Scientists

Over the past years TheLab has developed an outstanding program to mentor young scientists.  Our students have gone on to present their work on the local, county, state, national, and international stages with recognition from many highly respected scientific institutions.  We have witnessed firsthand how incredible young minds can be and are passionate about continuing to mentoring these promising students.

Room overviews at the 2015 California State Science Fair, California Science Center, Los Angeles, CA, 5/19/15.

TheLab offers students the opportunity to work in an active biology lab equipped with a wide variety of resources that are often unavailable to students.  We assist in finding appropriate tutors to mentor students at all levels including sophisticated research well beyond the general middle and high school courses.  Often new scientists find it difficult to source the necessary materials for their research.  TheLab has relationships with many scientific supply companies to source whatever might be required to conduct your particular project.

scifairWe have many years of experience mentoring students for the science fairs as well as facilitating them becoming confident in scientific research.  Our president, Dr. Cory Tobin has been a judge at the LA State Science Fair for 7 years and ISEF for 1 year.  He is very knowledgeable about how to help students make a successful presentation.

If you are interested in learning more about our youth scientist program please contact Melissa at  We would be happy to schedule a meeting for you to tour TheLab.  We encourage anyone curious about TheLab to visit us during our Sunday Socials.  Please visit our meetup page to see all of our upcoming events.

Meet our Youth Scientists



Keoni joined TheLab as our first youth scientist.  Since then he as accomplished winning many science fairs, attending the Broadcom MASTERS which provided him with the opportunity to meet President Obama, and getting hired by UC Irvine while still in high school.  We cannot be more proud of the accomplishment this amazing young man has made over the past few years.

In 2013 Keoni presented his project “Engineering Pink Salt” at the Orange County Science Fair winning first place in the Junior Microbiology and Cell Biology category.  He then placed first at the California State Science Fair in the Junior Microbiology category.  In this project Keoni engineered a pink archaeon, the organism that gives pink salt its color, to express a green fluorescent protein such that the salt containing his special organism would glow green under black lights.Keoni 2013 Broadcom

Keoni was selected to attend the 2013 Broadcom MASTERS as one of 30 participants.  Broadcom was held in Washington DC where the nations best and brightest middle school students gathered for a national science fair.  Keoni earned first place in science honors.  Among the highlights of this amazing opportunity was getting to meet President Obama.

IMG_7914In 2014 Keoni switched topics and presented “Recoding M13 for Improved Phage Display” at the Orange County Science Fair winning first place in the Senior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology category.  In this project he rebuilt the genome of a virus that infects E. coli, allowing it to be more useful for certain laboratory experiments.  This took him to the California State Science Fair where he competed however did not win any awards.  Read about his project here.

Keoni used his success and substantial scientific knowledge to get a research position at UC Irvine. He now works in the Laboratory for Synthetic Evolution at UCI run by Professor Chang C. Liu where we works on developing new directed evolution techniques in yeast.



IMG_7118Sophia has been a member of TheLab for many years now joining when she was in 7th grade.  She has been an inspiration to many of our adult members and a testament to the abilities that young scientists can have when given the right opportunities.

In 2014 Sophia presented “Inducing Cellular Senescence in Tetrahymena Thermophila Using Epigallocatechin Gallate to Shorten Telomere” at the LA County Science Fair winning first place in the Junior Pharmacology category and was a sweepstakes finalist.  At the California State Science Fair she earned second place in the Junior Pharmacology/ Toxicology category.  The goal of this project was to understand how certain compounds from green tea affect the shortening of telomeres – the structures at the end of chromosomes that protects them from damage during replication. In the course of this research Sophia used real time PCR to quantify the length of telomeres in the protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila.  In addition to her success at the state level, she was also a Broadcom MASTERS semifinalist in 2014.

In 2015 Sophia presented her project titled “Optimizing Chromosomal Exposure for Florescence In Situ Hybridization in Tetrohymena thermophila” at the LA County Science Fair.  She won second place in the Senior Microbiology division securing her acceptance to the state science fair.  This project was an extension of her previous year’s project.  Instead of using real time PCR she developed a technique to use fluorescence in situ hybridization to more accurately quantify telomere lengths. Sophia proudly presented at the California State Science Fair, although did not win any awards.  Here is a link to her project description.



Benjamin began visiting TheLab when his sister, Sophia became a member.  We have been benjprivileged to see the success of both these students.  Benjamin is very curious about the world we live in proposing research about venus fly traps, butterfly metamorphosis, and dinosaurs.

benj_2In 2015 Benjamin presented “Retention of Larval Stage Conditioning in Post Metamorphic Pieris Rapae Butterflies; Can Butterflies Remember Being a Caterpillar?” winning first place in the LA County Science fair in the Junior Behavioral Sciences (Non-Human) category and first place in the California State Science Fair in the Junior Zoology categor47a5da22b3127cce98549c02c8c100000030100AZsXLNo3bsWpgy.  He was also an invited applicant for the 2015 Broadcom MASTERS.   This project studied the memory of butterflies and determined that butterflies retain certainmemories of stimuli through metamorphosis. He showed that stimuli-response associations formed during the caterpillar stage are retained through to the butterfly stage.  Here is a link to his project description.

Benjamin 2016 LA Science FairFor his 2016 project Benjamin again came up with a fascinating proposal.  His project titled “Indication of Laterality in Bipedal Dinosaurs Using Gait Analysis from Dinosaur Trackways” won him second place at the LA County Science Fair in the Junior Animal Biology category and in the special awards at the LA County Science Fair he was awarded the first place Award for Academic Excellence by the Southern California Paleontological Society.  His success at the county level secured him a position to compete in the 2016 California Science Fair happening May 23-24, 2016.  In this project Benjamin analyzed the footprints of certain dinosaurs to determine if they exhibited any handedness apparent through their gait.



Elisha Science Fair 2015Elisha began working at TheLab in 2015 when he proposed a regenerative medicine project about prolotherapy for his 2016 science fair project.  As an 7th grader this was an extremely ambitious proposal involving skills many scientists do not perfect until well into their graduate research.

In 2015 Elisha participated in the science fair with his project “Organic and Conventional Chicken under the Microscope: A Pilot Study Comparing Protein Quality”.  He was awarded 1st place at the Los Angeles County Science Fair in the Junior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology category.  He proceeded to the California State Science Fair earning second place in the Junior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology category.  Elisha was also an invited applicant for the 2015 Broadcom MASElisha 2016 LA Science FairTERS.

Elisha’s 2016 science fair project “Regenerative Medicine in vitro: Investigating the Effect of Prolotherapy on Cell Growth” earned him honorable mention in the Junior Pharmacology category at the LA County Science Fair.  The question Elisha set out to answer with this project was whether or not glycerine, a common compound used in prolotherapy, would lead to an increase in cell death. His results show that glycerine does in fact lead to cell death in mouse preosteoblasts. Throughout this work, Elisha became proficient in the difficult skill of culturing and working with mammalian cells in vitro.



calebCaleb joined TheLab in 2015 looking for a location suitable for his research. He was interested in how certain plant extracts affect the viability of stem cells.

In 2016 Caleb presented his project titled “In Vitro Osteogenesis Potential in Osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 Cells from Moringa Oleifera and Boswellia Serrata Extracts” at the LA County Science Fair winning in the Senior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology category.  This success qualified him to enter the California State Science fair to be held May 23-24, 2016. In this project he measured how extracts that are thought Caleb 2016 LA Science Fairto activate Bone Morphogenic Protein 6 affect mouse preosteoblast proliferation. BMP6 is a protein involved in the activation of bone and cartilage growth.  By exploring the effect these plant extracts have on preosteoblasts he hopes to understand how osteoporosis develops and potentially develop a treatment.