September 2012

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Lijia Xie to be Awarded $25,000 as a 2012 Davidson Fellow

(Reno, Nev.) – Twenty-two bright young people named as 2012 Davidson Fellows exemplify the extraordinary work that can be accomplished by U.S. students who are given opportunities to excel. One of these gifted students is 17-year-old Lijia Xie, of Lansdale, Pa. 

Lijia’s project revolves around the concept of DNA methylation and its use as a biomarker, or indicator, for liver cancer. DNA methylation silences genes; thus, examining the methylation of a tumor suppressor gene known as RASSF1A serves as a good indicator of the potential presence of cancer. The test Lijia developed is able to detect and differentiate cancerous and noncancerous tissue with greater sensitivity than what is currently available, and further research can develop these techniques and strategies into viable, early detection methods for liver cancer. Lijia is currently a senior at North Penn High School.

The Davidson Fellows Scholarship program offers $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000 college scholarships to students 18 or younger, who have created significant projects that have the potential to benefit society in the fields of science, technology, mathematics, literature, music and philosophy. The Davidson Fellows Scholarship has provided nearly $5 million in scholarship funds to 206 Fellows since its inception in 2001, and has been named one of the most prestigious undergraduate scholarships by U.S. News & World Report. It is a program of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Reno, Nev. that supports profoundly gifted youth.

“The Davidson Institute is built on the belief that individuals, who have extraordinary intelligence and talents, when encouraged and supported, can improve the quality of life for us all,” said Bob Davidson, co-founder of the Davidson Institute. “We are delighted to recognize this group of resourceful and distinguished young people for their fascinating projects – projects that have the potential to benefit society."

While Lijia has made significant strides in the field of science, the 2012 Davidson Fellows can claim important accomplishments that are quite diverse:

  • Discovering how intracellular signaling in plants works to produce an effective immune response against bacterial pathogens;

  • Contributing to a better understanding of consciousness with implications in fields ranging from medicine to artificial intelligence; and,

  • Identifying the biomechanism to provide a therapeutic target to curing Parkinson’s disease pathology.

Producing highly-qualified professionals, including scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs is critical to economic development in the United States. Public discourse on our nation’s competitiveness tends to focus on the needs of low-performing students. As important to our country’s future success are the most capable of students, such as the 2012 Davidson Fellows, who are reaching high levels of academic and innovative excellence and are strong examples of what students can achieve with the proper support.  

About the Davidson Institute
Founded by Bob and Jan Davidson in 1999, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development recognizes, nurtures and supports profoundly intelligent young people, and provides opportunities for them to develop their talents to make a positive difference. The Institute offers support through a number of programs and services, including the Davidson Fellows program and The Davidson Academy. For more information about the 2011 Davidson Fellows, please visit

2012 Davidson Fellow Laureates

$50,000 Scholarships

  • Mr. David Ding, 18, Albany, Calif.; Infinitesimal Cherednik Algebras of gl_n
  • Mr. Manoj Kanagaraj, 18, Chino Hills, Calif.: A Novel Mechanism for HER2 Targeted Drug Resistance: The Role of t-DARPP in a Compensatory Signaling Shift Between the EGFR and HER2 Pathways
  • Miss Sara Volz, 17, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Enhancing Algae Biofuels: Investigation of the Environmental and Enzymatic Factors Effecting Algal Lipid Synthesis
  • Mr. Michael Yan, 18, Pepper Pike, Ohio; Genetic Mutation of LRRK2 Causes Autosomal Parkinson’s Disease by Disrupting Mitochondrial Dynamics

2012 Davidson Fellows

$25,000 Scholarships

  • Mr. Nathan Chan, 18, Burlingame, Calif.; The Importance of Passion
  • Miss Ashley George, 18, Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.; Creating a Framework for a Flexible, Biodegradable, and Biocompatible Gelatin-Chitosan Biosensor
  • Mr. Philip He, 17, Okemos, Mich.; A Novel Role of an Actin Capping Protein in Plant Immune Signaling
  • Mr. Duligur Ibeling, 18, Osseo, Minn.; The Metallicity-Dependent Transition between White Dwarfs and Type II Supernovae
  • Mr. Ryota Ishizuka, 18, Cos Cob, Conn.; Optimization of a Microbial Fuel Cell to Drive a Bioelectrochemically Assisted Wastewater Treatment Reactor
  • Miss Nina Lu, 18, Rockville, Md.; Determination of Binding Energy Hotspots on a Broadly-Neutralizing Antibody against HIV-1
  • Miss Naomi Shah, 17, Portland, Ore.; An Experimental Study of the Impact of Airborne Pollutants on the Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) Rate of Asthmatic Subjects PLUS A Novel Risk Assessment Model to Predict the Effect of PM10 and TVOC on the PEF Rate
  • Mr. Lijia Xie, 17, Lansdale, Pa.; Location Matters - Specificity of the RASSF1A gene as a biomarker for the detection of hepatocellular carcinoma

$10,000 Scholarships

  • Mr. Saumil Bandyopadhyay, 17, Glen Allen, Va.; A novel frequency-selective detector of light and β radiation implemented with self-assembled quantum wires: An application of quantum-mechanical wavefunction and density-of-states engineering
  • Mr. Alex Chen, 16, Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif.; A Maximum Power Point Tracking Hardware with an Improved Hill Climbing Algorithm
  • Mr. Sitan Chen, 17, Suwanee, Ga.; On the Rank Number of Grid Graphs
  • Miss Ioana Grosu, 17, Troy, Mich.; Consciousness and the Hard Problem: Discovering the Mind
  • Mr. Bryan He, 18, Buffalo, N.Y.; A Simple Optimal Binary Representation of Mosaic Floorplans and Baxter Permutations
  • Mr. Xiaoyu He, 18, Acton, Mass.; On the Classification of Universal Rotor-Routers
  • Mr. Kamden Hilliard, 18, Mililani, Hawaii.; Reflections on Everything There Ever Was
  • Mr. Ian McKeachie, 16, Reno, Nev.; Attitudes of Existence
  • Miss Vaishnavi Rao, 17, San Diego, Calif.; Activity-dependent Regulation of Nitric Oxide Expression: Novel Form of Neurotransmitter Plasticity
  • Mr. Anand Srinivasan, Roswell, Ga.; "Doc Ock" - Development of Novel Filtration Techniques to Facilitate Accurate Pattern Detection in EEG Signals


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Davidson Institute for Talent Development
9665 Gateway Drive, Suite B
Reno, Nevada 89521
Fax: 775-852-2184