Youth Scientists

This program is closed for the 2018-2019 school year.  Please visit our classes page for other opportunities for students.

Over the 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.


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 young 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.

We 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 9 years and ISEF for 1 year.  He is very knowledgeable about how to help students make a successful presentation.

This program is closed for the 2018-2019 school year.  Please visit our classes page for other opportunities for students.

Projects by Year

2013          2014          2015          2016          2017        2018

Meet Some of our Standout Youth Scientists


Titash is a high school student from Crescenta Valley High School.  She joined TheLab in the fall of 2016 to conduct her research for her science fair project.  During her research she learned how to make cell cultures of bacterial species and the importance of a sterile work environment.

She earned First place in the Microbiology Senior Division of the 2017 LA County Science Fair with her project titled Conjugation of Pyrimidine Derivatives to Gold Nanoparticles to Combat Antibiotic Resistance.  Her project focused on comparing the efficacy of antibiotics and nanoparticle coupled antibiotics.   The results showed that the antibiotics coupled to gold nanoparticles were more effective in killing bacteria than antibiotics alone.

This project also won Titash the overall fair Senior Division Sweepstakes Award which is the highest award at the LA Country Fair, advancement to the 2017 California State Science Fair, and an invitation to the 2017 Intel ISEF Science Fair.

Titash continued her interest in science and research earning a prestigious internship at UCLA in the summer of 2017.  Read more about her 2018 project here. She again competed in the LA County and CA State science fairs in 2018 winning awards and getting a second invitation to the 2018 INTEL ISEF competition.  She was accepting in both the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  Titash is current deciding between these two amazing schools for her undergraduate studies.



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 2013 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 while still in high school. He worked in the Laboratory for Synthetic Evolution at UCI run by Professor Chang C. Liu where we worked on developing new directed evolution techniques in yeast.

After graduating from high school Keoni begin working at Stanford University as a research associate in the department of Bioengineering under professor Drew Endy.  He has postponed his undergraduate studies to pursue opportunity and is considered skipping an undergraduate program to begin his PhD studies.



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.

Sophia continued to excel in science and research.  In the spring of 2018 she accepted admittance into the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and will begin her undergraduate studies in the fall of 2018.


Benjamin began visitibenj_2ng TheLab when his sister, Sophia became a member.  We have been privileged 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.

In 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 category47a5da22b3127cce98549c02c8c100000030100AZsXLNo3bsWpg.  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 2016 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 where he received Honorable Mention.  In this project Benjamin analyzed the footprints of certain dinosaurs to determine if they exhibited any handedness apparent through their gait.



Elisha 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.

Elisha’s 2016 science fair project titled Regenerative Medicine in vitro: Investigating the Effect of Prolotherapy on Cell Growth earned him Honorable Mention in the Junior Pharmacology category at the 2016 LA County Science Fair.  The question Elisha set out to answer 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.
Elisha advanced to the 2016 California State Science Fair.  He eared Second Place in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Junior Division with his project Investigating the Molecular Mechanisms of a Safe Promising Treatment for Chronic Joint Pain.

Elisha continued to work on his project in 2017.  He earned First Place in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Junior Division at the 2017 LA Country Science Fair with the project titled The Molecular Mechanisms of Regenerating Cartilage to Reduce Chronic Pain: Phenol, Glucose, Glycerin (Prolotherapy) Upregulates FGF-2 Expression.  His results allowed him to better understand the molecular mechanisms by which phenol-glucose-glycerin (prolotherapy) regenerates cartilage (P2G upregulates FGF-2 expression which triggers cell proliferation).

Elisha will advance to the 2017 California State Science Fair.  Here he won first place in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Junior Division and the Student of the Year Junior Award.

He is currently a freshman at Palos Verde High School and plans to continue his research in regenerative medicine.