Bayside teen gets Intel nod

Timi Chu
By Nathan Duke

A 17−year−old Bayside girl was one of 300 students nationwide chosen as a semifinalist in Intel’s prestigious annual Science Talent Search competition for her work on a research project dealing with obesity.

Timi Chu, who lives in Bayside and is a senior at the Bronx High School of Science, has spent the past two years working on a study of obesity among the Latino population in Manhattan’s Washington Heights. She was picked as one of six students from Bronx Science Jan. 14 as a semifinalist for the Intel Science Talent Search, which had a total 1,608 applicants this year.

“I’m very excited,” Chu said. “I’m not sure where my interest comes from, but I’ve been interested in studying obesity for a while. There haven’t been any real solutions to it.”

Her project — titled “Parental Perceptions and Attitudes Toward Obesity in Washington Heights” — began during her sophomore year. She first administered a survey at a health clinic in that neighborhood, asking questions about perceptions of obesity in the area’s Latino community. Her questions included whether a household’s children were obese, whether their mother was obese and body size preferences among the community.

Many of the Latino mothers she polled said they preferred having larger figures, but that they wanted their children to have healthy lifestyles.

“My study found that mothers in the Washington Heights area are aware of the obesity situation, but refuse to rectify their habits because of cultural attitudes and traditions,” Chu said.

Columbia University’s New York Presbyterian Hospital is using the findings of her study.

Intel, a semiconductor manufacturer headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., has sponsored the competition for 10 years. The program is meant to encourage high school seniors who demonstrate scientific abilities to tackle “challenging scientific questions and develop the skills to solve the problems of tomorrow,” according to a released statement by Intel.

The company originally started its sponsorship with $207,000, but has now expanded it for a grand total of $1.2 million.

Chu was planning this week to travel to Washington, D.C., to take part in the semifinals of the science competition. She and the other participants will present their projects orally and judges will narrow the finalists down to 10 students.

She is currently applying to colleges and hopes to get into Yale University, with the goal of eventually becoming a doctor.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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