Local student selected recipient of Virginia’s 2019 Outstanding STEM Awards
Posted on 10/09/2019
Shan Lateef. Photo by Tyler Rhondes, Science Museum of Virginia

Shan Lateef, a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), is one of five individuals in the state selected as a recipient of Virginia’s 2019 Outstanding Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Awards. He is one of only two students named a STEM Phenom. Prior to attending TJHSST, Lateef attended Benton Middle School in Prince William County where he resides.

At the awards ceremony held recently, Lateef thanked one of his mentors and eighth grade geometry teacher at Benton Middle School, Kristin Rojas, for not only nominating him, but for her support, encouragement, and optimism.

“I’m very grateful to all my amazing teachers and mentors, starting from Marshall Elementary School, through Benton Middle School and now at Thomas Jefferson High School. I hope more students realize the potential of STEM and see how much it can improve the world we live in,” shared Lateef.  

Lateef was selected as a STEM Phenom for successfully combining his passion for STEM and community service. He is the founder and co-president of One World, a non-profit organization established and run by students to teach, engage, and inspire youth and expose them to opportunities in STEAM fields.

Lateef has dedicated himself to understanding STEM principles and applying them to solve issues in human health and disease.

As a student at Benton Middle School, Lateef and another student worked on a research project using the fruit fly to examine the harmful effects ultraviolet (UV) radiation have on health and the potential of antioxidants to protect against UV-induced damage. His work, “Effect of Ultraviolet Radiation and the Antioxidant Curcumin on the Longevity, Fertility, and Physical Structure of Drosophila melanogaster: Can we Defend our DNA?” has been recently accepted for publication.

His current research focuses on traumatic brain injury and determining appropriate targets for treatments and interventions. Lateef has successfully published his initial findings in the Journal of Experimental Neuroscience and has presented his work at two scientific conferences.

This past spring, Lateef received the American Academy of Neurology’s Neuroscience Research Prize, one of four high school students in the United States awarded this honor. He also won the first-place award in medicine and health at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

Lateef’s future goals include becoming a neuroscientist and gaining a better understanding of the complexities of brain function and the repercussions of its dysfunction. 

Shan Lateef with Secretary of Education Atif Qarni

(Photo by: Tyler Rhodes, Science Museum of Virginia)