Toronto teen making waves in world of neuroscience

Michael Liu has helped develop a new concept that could be used for cheaper, faster and more effective HIV tests.

He’s also worked on initiatives fighting stigma around mental health issues among youth and actively participated in research to help people recover after strokes.

Oh, and he’s only 17 — headed to Harvard University next week to start undergraduate studies in liberal arts.

Liu’s work, especially in the filed of science, has earned him recognition from Plan Canada as one of this year’s Top 20 Under 20.

The non-profit, dedicated to improving the lives of children around the globe, recognizes young people across the country who are making a difference in a variety of fields.

For Liu, the awards highlight that age isn’t an issue — be it young or old. 

“You grow up hearing a lot about kids can’t do this, kids can’t do that,” he said. “But with resources, people are motivated and dedicated about what they do. Age really doesn’t matter.”

Liu knows what he’s talking about.

He got immersed in neuroscience at a young age and, under supervision from a professor, worked with a team to develop a hydrogel capable of carrying stem cells into stroke-affected parts of the brain. The substance could help keep the cells alive and potentially help patient make a full recovery.

Last year, his research into HIV testing — with the potential of reducing the cost of a test from $50 to about 10 cents — won honours in a nationwide competition focused on biotechnology.

Liu plans to continue his projects into university and is thirsty to learn more.

“There’s so much great science work being done today, but there’s such a big issue with knowledge translation,” said Liu, with the hopes a degree in liberal arts will help him fill that void. 

Other honours

Along with Michael Liu, several other GTA teens found their way onto the Top 20 Under 20 list.

— Maxwell Tran, 19, Mississauga: Founder of Ink Movement, a national non-profit empowering youth through writing, photography and visual arts.

— Mikaela Preston, 18, Markham: Her research in biofuels suggests the possibility of converting agricultural waste to hydrogen fuel.

— Mahan Nekoui, 19, North York: Co-founder of The Reckoner, a school newspaper with a staff of about 70 students. He’s also the brain behind Scraping for Science, a program that automatically publishes unbiased outbreak reports for the public.

— Neal Zuberi Attard, 19, Thornhill: Founder of Student Activist Association, a group connecting immigrant students to volunteer opportunities that help them integrate, build experience and receive references needed to get jobs.

— Lauren Reid, 18, Uxbridge: She’s working on a green technology project that’s projected to generate clean electricity and reduce emissions by millions of pounds per day.

— Clement Zheng, 17, from Markham: Co-founder of ActOut, a social justice group that brings global issues to the classroom through experiential learning.

— Calvin Rieder, 18 from Oakville: He’s created a system that extracts water from the atmosphere for human consumption without using external energy.

Source: Toronto teen making waves in world of neuroscience

Via: Google Alert for Neuroscience