According to the group, Kuo is one of the youngest students ever to receive the prestigious award for her project, "Production of Monoclonal Antibodies to Oxidation Specific Epitopes," presented at the 2012 Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair last spring.
"It's a really great opportunity to be recognized for this work," said Kuo. "I'm so excited to be able to do some science every day."
Kuo credited her La Jolla High science teacher, Martin Teachworth, and Ayelet Gonen, a postdoctoral fellow and medical researcher at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Gonen is the "mother of one of my sister's friends," said Kuo.
"Two summers ago, I went to work in her lab and really liked it."
For Dr. Gonen, it was like she'd received an additional researcher in her Clinical Biochemistry lab where research focuses on immunology and the involvement of the immune response in the atherosclerotic process.
"She's a very bright, hard-working student and became part of our research team," said Dr. Gonen. "She learned cooperation, working with our team, brainstorming and the scientific method."
The paper that was submitted to the Science Fair and eventually won the award followed Emily's second summer in the lab.
"I was very impressed with the paper," said Dr. Gonen. "She could present that paper at any scientific conference."
Medicine is in Emily's family, as her mother, Dr. Geraldine P. Kuo, and father, Dr. James Kuo, are both MDs. She credits them for encouraging her to explore science, along with Mr. Teachworth, Principal Dana Shelburne and all her teachers at La Jolla High.
Science will be one of Emily's determining factors in what university she chooses after high school. Another determining factor will be tennis. She's on the varsity tennis team at La Jolla High. Like the College of American Pathologists and Science Fair competitions, she's up against older students; she enjoys the challenge.
"It's my favorite, non-science subject," said Emily. "I love having my friends cheer for me!"