By Naeisha Rose
Tabitha Ramirez of Glendale is one of 45 students worldwide who has been chosen to be a part of the inaugural World Science Scholar initiative, a program by the World Science Foundation in Manhattan that wants to nurture future science and math leaders.
Ramirez, 15, a junior at Newtown High School in Elmhurst, is a self-professed “math nerd” and said she’s excited to be a part of the online program, which started its lessons Oct. 22.
“I’m most excited to learn about string theory,” Tabitha said. “String theory tries to explain the true nature of reality. They say it could be one of the unified theories or the theory of everything — the correct description of our universe… and I think that is really cool.”
Other lessons on the agenda for the World Science Scholar students are molecular biology and neuroscience, according to Tabitha.
The multi-disciplinary initiative will have a series of filmed and live course lessons from renowned scientists at the forefront of their fields like Brian Greene, Cumrun Vafa, Andrea Ghez, Loren Looger and Sara Imari Walker, according to a spokeswoman for the World Science Foundation.
The program has 16 courses, which can take one to two years to complete, and once students are done they can become a part of the World Science Scholars alumni network.
WSF selected the scholar to be a part of the program despite the fact that she signed up past the deadline, because she “demonstrated exceptional mathematical capability and promise,” according to the spokeswoman.
“I was surprised when I got selected,” said Tabitha. “Then I got excited, because I am going to learn things I didn’t know about before.”
Tabitha was always inquisitive about science growing up and even sought out to learn more on the subject outside the classroom.
“As I got older and started to look into science through YouTube videos and reading books on my own, I started to get fascinated by it,” Tabitha said. “I especially loved biology and then I became obsessed with everything else.”
One of Tabitha’s hopes at the conclusion of the program is to meet the other scholars in person. Before the lessons started, the students, mostly high school sophomores and juniors, were introduced to each other through pre-recorded introductory videos.
“I would like to meet a few people and collaborate with people who are passionate about science just like me,” said Tabitha. “There is not really a lot of people I know in real life who are passionate about science or super excited about it.”
The young scholar also hopes the program will help her figure out a career path.
“I’m kind of stuck between neuroscientist, physicist or mathematician,” said Tabitha. “I have always been curious about the brain… I love to do math for fun and physics takes my love for math and my love for science and mixes them together.”
Tabitha would also like to collaborate on a project with her fellow scholars.
“A project on string theory or interplanetary exploration… that would be really cool,” said Tabitha. “Also something with neuroscience.”
Tracy Day, the co-founder of the World Science Festival, which is a part of the foundation, wants the kids to get as much as they can from the initiative.
“We want to introduce some of the world’s most talented math students to the possibilities of where their gifts can take them. We’re looking to build a community that grows, is mutually supportive and goes out and changes the world,” Day said.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose