Senior cuts to the heart of cardiac research

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Sadie Hersh co-editor-in-chief

The closest most high school students get to cardiac work is physiology class or a “Grey’s Anatomy” episode. However, senior Judy Kim has been conducting research in this field with the Southern California Academy of Sciences (SCAS) since her freshman year.

Kim was one of five students selected from the SCAS chapter who traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the American Association for the Advancement of Science Conference from Feb. 10-14.

“My research specifically focused on cardiac MRI analysis for heart attack patients to see recovery and whether we can predict from acute infarct size, whether we can predict that to see how the patient will be recovering in six months,” Kim said.

The criteria for being chosen to represent Southern California was rigorous and specific, with multiple aspects to determine the representatives

“Each state sends delegates to this national conference based on their science research,” Kim explained. “For us, in SCAS, it’s based on our scientific presentation in May, and judges who look at our oral presentation and our traditional science research papers choose a few delegates to attend.”

Along with presenting the research she has been working on for four years, Kim was also able to meet high school students from around the United States who have interests in other fields of science.

“This conference allowed me to meet some of the most intelligent and insightful people, and it was really interesting to see what kind of research they were doing. For example, my roommate’s research focused on aerospace engineering, and she modeled her own kind of airship,” Kim said.

Kim elaborated new work methods she learned from others at the conference.

“At this conference, I was exposed to such a wide range of how everyone interacts in their lab and finds unique ways to study a topic that interests them,” Kim said. “It’s no longer about competing, because everyone there at the conference has already come so far with their research; now, it’s just about being able to share your process and learn from each other to further develop ideas for people to appreciate your work.”

As Kim continues her research on cardiac MRI analysis, she is simultaneously preparing for another meeting to present her work in May. The growing research Kim is conducting will aid her when she presents at the SCAS’s 125th anniversary meeting.

“This year is SCAS’s 125th anniversary, so they’re having a big meeting at USC, and I’m going to be presenting my current research since I’m continuing my cardiac MRI research at the UCLA Department of Radiology,” Kim said.

Kim has high hopes that she will one day help resolve the controversy and unknown that surrounds the medical world.

“With the research that I have done…want to contribute to new developments,” Kim said. “There’s a lot of debate going on right now whether heart cells for heart patients can regenerate, but hopefully with my research, in the long run, the controversy can be resolved.”

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