LONE TREE, Colo (CBS4) – The Future Leader award winner for April is deep into research that may have implications for treating Type 1 diabetes. Molly Dolan is a junior at Rock Canyon High School. In among her advanced placement classes, she’s taking Biotechnology 2, a class where students get to run their own real-world research.
“Biotechnology is using our understanding of biology to treat and solve world problems,” said Shawndra Fordham, a Biotech teacher.
Students create a research project proposal, they fundraise for it, they execute it, they troubleshoot any problems that happen, they analyze the results, and write a research paper at the end of the year.
“The students love it. They get to learn science in a way that’s relevant and meaningful,” Fordham explained.
Molly Dolan and her lab partner, Lauren McCaffrey, worked on some pretty, advanced science.
“The effects of insulin producing e-coli on the ingestion of Drosophila Melanogaster, also known as fruit flies,” Dolan told CBS4.
Over the course of many months, the young women fed insulin producing e-coli to diabetic fruit flies to see if it would impact their blood sugar levels.
“Our hope was that you could take a one-time probiotic, that contains the insulin producing e-coli to actually seed the gut so you get a constant stream of insulin into your blood stream,” Dolan explained.
A lofty goal for a high school junior, but right in line with her Biotechnology peers.
“What did you like most about working on your project?” CBS4 Chief Meteorologist Lauren Whitney asked.
“It’s so fun. Even when things go wrong, we become so close as a class. That it’s just fun to hang out with them,” Dolan replied.
Dolan and McCaffrey ran into some significant scientific errors during the year. Each mistake was a lesson learned, and like all good scientists they plan to do the research project again next year.
“I love science because unlike English, there’s a right answer, but there’s multiple ways to come to it.”
CBS4, along with our partners at the Colorado School of Mines and PDC Energy, award a Future Leader every month throughout the school years. The award honors high school students who are excelling in the science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM fields. Winners get $1,000, and profile on CBS4 News.