Magee Alumni To Give Global TED Talk

Magee graduates Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao are already highly regarded science researchers at their alma mater. Now they've got a chance to show off their abilities to a global audience after being selected to give a 2013 TED talk in Longbeach California. They'll be in good company. Other speakers this year will include Bono, venture capitalist (and the first outside investor of Facebook) Peter Thiel and Environmental Furturist Stewart Brand.

Last year Wang and Yao discovered a way to break down environmentally unfriendly compounds called phthalates, which are common in many plastics and linked to health problems. The discovery came after countless hours of work at UBC with Dr. Lindsay Eltis and his graduate students. Wang and Yao's chemistry teacher at Magee says it was a long road for the young scientists.

"Jeanny and Miranda had tremendous support from Dr. Lindsay Eltis at UBC and two of his grad students.  They were very dedicated to their experiment, working in the lab at UBC several evenings per week," says Mary Lee, a Magee chemistry teacher. "

Miranda Wang and Jeanny YaoThe hard work paid off. Not only did the two Grade 12 students get a chance to present their findings to a science lab full of PhD students and university researchers, they also won a BioGenius prize. It also got noticed by the Vancouver Sun, which wrote a front page story on the pair. The rest was history.

"We could not believe that we were given the opportunity to go to TED at Long Beach!" says Yao. "I was in class at the time: when I read Miranda's text message [that we'd been accepted to TED], I almost screamed out loud during lecture. All in all, we are infinitely thankful for this incredible and valuable opportunity. We hope to show who we truly are and where our passions lie by sharing our story on TED."

Wang, who is now at McGill University taking Life Sciences, says the opportunity to head down to Longbeach and give a lecture to a global audience is an amazing opportunity. She says they never expected fame when they launched their project while attending Magee, which she credits for providing a remarkably supportive environment for her work.    

"The experience at Magee was wonderful. It was the best school I ever could have gone to," says Wang. "I realized Magee was such a wonderful community. All the teachers tried really hard to help the students in a really important way. They cared about my emotions and well-being." 

To learn more about Wang and Yao's TED Talk, click here

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