Irene Ann Chen, 17, a senior at La Jolla High School in San Diego, captured first place in the 1995 Westinghouse Science Talent Search. She received a $40,000 college scholarship at the award ceremony in Washington, D.C., in March.

TOP OF HER CLASS: Irene Chen of La Jolla High School plans to use her $40,000 Westinghouse scholarship award to study molecular biology.
Chen, who is first in her graduating class, says she was "definitely" surprised that she garnered the top honor, noting that her competition was "a field of very outstanding finalists, all with amazing projects." Forty finalists were chosen from among 1,667 high school seniors vying for $205,000 in scholarships.

Chen, who entered a genetics project on the expression and function of two genes isolated from a lymphoma cancer-cell line, has been involved in biomedical research since she was 14. Working in internships with such organizations as the American...

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