The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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Working Tao-ward her passion

Lynn Tao balances academics at Jefferson, working on award winning computational biology projects, and finding time to help her community and relax
Lynn Tao
Attending the annual TJ Science and Engineering Fair, Tao presents her protein prediction model. She started the project during RSI and hopes to add to it in the future. “The protein prediction project was something that I worked on at RSI and actually continued as part of the TJ mentorship program this year. The project falls in very nicely with what I want to do in the future,” Tao said.

Regeneron, RSI (Research Science Institute), and Coca-Cola. The list of accomplishments stretches far and wide for senior Lynn Tao.

Tao has always been interested in STEM, and TJ expanded that interest.

“Coming to TJ definitely helped nurture that passion through the curriculum and the various extracurricular opportunities and resources that I found. I am really grateful to have been able to explore my passions and collaborate with like-minded peers,” Tao said.

While exploring her STEM interests at TJ, Tao became fascinated by the field of computational biology.

“Computational biology seemed pretty cool because it combines the very dynamic, evolving field of biology with the boundless realm of computer science,” Tao said. “And that means that I can use computer science and artificial intelligence in a way that’s geared towards things in a biological context.”

Using her computational biology skills, Tao has primarily worked on two research projects.

“The first project was about developing an early breast cancer risk detection application. I was inspired to do something by my family’s extensive history of breast cancer, so I worked with a mentor at Yale University to gain more insight and see if there was any innovation I could come up with to advance early detection,” Tao said. “Another project that I worked on last year, at the research science institute was about optimizing this deep learning model for protein interactions, which surrounded proteomics and deep learning.”

Outside of her academic work, Tao is also an active member in the community and enjoys a few hobbies in her free time.

“I have a couple of different interests in community service and civic engagement. As a part of the STEM Ambassadors program, I work to bring STEM opportunities and education to younger kids, especially those in underserved communities. I’m also a Habitat hero, which is tied to the Fairfax County Park Authority, and a Rise Against Hunger volunteer where we package meal kits for those in need,” Tao said.

Leaning down, Tao performs a classical Chinese dance. This extracurricular helps Tao balance her rigorous schedule. “Doing a lot of things can definitely lead to a lot of stress, and it’s important not to get burned out and find something you enjoy that can take your mind off of things for at least a little while,” Tao said. (Lynn Tao)

As a result of these scientific and civic contributions, Tao was named to be a Coca-Cola scholar alongside 150 seniors throughout the nation.

“It’s really an incredible honor to be recognized by the Coca-Cola Foundation. I’m so excited to meet and join a community of dedicated, talented Scholars nationwide, people who I can share passions and pursuits with as we learn, grow, and benefit society together,” Tao said.

When she is not conducting research or volunteering in her community, Tao spends her time creating amigurumi.

“ I picked up crocheting as a side hobby during quarantine and you can make these little amigurumi. They’re like little stuffed animals, and it’s very relaxing. I could just have Netflix or something playing in the background while I’m making one,” Tao said.

Tao sees high school as a journey exploring new things.

“The end goal shouldn’t be an achievement or an award or an honor, but rather that just comes as a result of working on something that you really like to do,” Tao said.

From the May 2023 Issue of tjTODAY



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