Local High School Senior Wins $175,000 for Her Research on Vaping

Image of Natalia Orlovsky via Chris Ayers, Society for Science & the Public.

Natalia Orlovsky’s research on the effects of electronic cigarettes and other “vaping” devices recently won the second prize, $175,000, at the national Regeneron Science Talent Search in Washington, D.C., writes Tom Avril for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Vaping, which one-third of high school seniors say they’ve tried, is a hot topic where much remains unknown. The concern is that users inhale vapors that usually contain nicotine, an addictive substance. However, the devices may be useful for people trying to quit traditional cigarettes.

Orlovsky, 18, a senior at Garnet Valley High School, studied whether vaping could damage the lungs, and she concluded that it possibly could.

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She didn’t find evidence that the vapors altered the DNA of human lung cells in lab dishes, though she did discover that they triggered a chemical “stress response” inside the cell.

Conestoga High School senior Reese Caldwell, whose project used pulses of light to stimulate the activity of enzymes in synthetic cells, was also among the 40 finalists at the talent search. He and other finalists who were not among the Top 10 each earned $25,000.

Click here to read more about Natalia Orlovsky’s research in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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