Evanston Township High School senior named semifinalist in prestigious science competition

Evanston Township Senior Laura Goetz has been named a semifinalist of the Intel Science Talent Search competition.

Courtesy Stuart-Rodger Photography

Evanston Township Senior Laura Goetz has been named a semifinalist of the Intel Science Talent Search competition.

Olga Gonzalez Latapi, Reporter

An Evanston Township High School senior was named a semifinalist in Intel’s Science Talent Search this month for research done in a Northwestern professor’s lab.

This is the second semifinalist recognition for Laura Goetz in the past few months. The Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology named her a semifinalist last October. Goetz is now one of 300 semifinalists in the Intel science competition and one of just five statewide.

For Goetz, the focus while working with Prof. Richard Morimoto at NU last summer was research, not competition. She said she didn’t even know what the Intel competition was.

“Prof. Morimoto stopped me in the hallway one day and said to me that I should start thinking about the Intel Science Talent Search,” Goetz said.

Goetz decided to enter the competition as she had already done all the research. All Goetz had to do, she said, was write a paper to submit.

“I had zero expectations,” she said.

After talking to her high school teachers, Morimoto said he decided to lend space in his laboratory to the ETHS senior. Goetz said her physics teacher Mark Vondracek put her in touch with Morimoto on possible summer research opportunities.

Goetz’s independent research project, which she submitted for the Intel Talent Search, focused on genetics, Morimoto said. The biology professor said Goetz was just as competent as Northwestern seniors and graduate students.

It’s impressive that Laura is so interested in the sciences at such a young age, Morimoto said.

“You know, being a scientist has nothing to do with how old you are,” he said. “It has nothing to do whether you are a high school student or undergraduate. It has to do with curiosity.”

Vondracek said he was also very proud of Goetz since Intel is one of the most prestigious science competitions in the country.

Admitted to Yale University, Goetz said she plans to continue her involvement with the sciences.

“It is nice to get that confirmation that I could viably pursue that in the future,” she said.

Goetz said she is happy to have NU so close to her house and high school. Likewise, Morimoto said NU should be proud of having hosted one of the brightest students in the country.

“It is important for Northwestern to realize that it has a great responsibility to give opportunities to such talented students,” he said.

Thinking ahead, Goetz is getting ready for the next stage of the competition. She will find out if she is an Intel finalist next Wednesday. If selected, Goetz will have to create a presentation that will be judged.