Iowa Biotechnology Association Names Central Lee High School Sophomore as Iowa BioGENEius Finalist

Aaron Wills Advances to San Francisco to Compete Against Top Students from Across the Nation and Canada.

IowaBio has named Central Lee High School sophomore, Aaron Wills of Donnellson, as the winner of the 2016 Iowa BioGENEius Challenge, the premier competition for high school students that recognizes outstanding research and innovation in the biotechnology field.

As Iowa’s BioGENEius finalist, Aaron Wills will attend the 2016 BIO International Convention in San Francisco, the industry’s trade conference, where he will engage with leading companies, scientists and innovators currently transforming the scientific landscape in order to gain invaluable insights into an industry making significant contributions to the world. While in San Francisco, Aaron will compete against students from the U.S., Canada and Germany in the International BioGENEius Challenge. The projects presented will represent a range of biotechnology topics such as healthcare, agriculture, and the environment. “The Challenge highlights the breakthroughs made when we invest and encourage our younger generations to pursue their ideas.

These students are facing the world’s greatest problems head on and providing solutions to heal, feed, and fuel people and the environment,” said IowaBio Associate Director, Melissa Moyer. “IowaBio is excited to cheer Aaron on in San Francisco at the 2016 BIO International Convention as we already know that his research has great potential to help society as well as inspire others to pursue research projects.”

“Our mission is to engage and excite student innovators by creating an environment that allows them to showcase their talents and help accelerate their development as the next-generation of scientists. The BioGENEius Challenges encourage students to apply their scientific knowledge to solve some of society’s most pressing issues through biotechnology, allowing them to see the tremendous potential they have to make change in the world,” said Dr. Lawrence Mahan, President of Biotechnology Institute. “We bring students, mentors and industry leaders together to promote excellence in scientific research from the best and brightest minds in the next generation of biotechnology innovators.”

Aaron Wills’ project focused on the ability of Lemna minor (duckweed) to metabolize and lower the nitrate level in Iowa’s spring water, additionally reducing the occurrence of algal blooms. This has become a recent problem within our state and Aaron’s project showcased an innovative, biological and environmentally-friendly solution.

The IowaBio judging panel was captivated by his passion, depth of research and interest in working with his local community to finding a global solution. He will be a great student to represent the state of Iowa and the ag/environmental side of biotechnology. “I am honored to represent Iowa and compete in the U.S. in the 2016 International BioGENEius Challenge,” said Aaron Wills. “The best part will be meeting kids from other countries and being in San Francisco.”

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