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Program Information

65th Annual STS (2005-2006)
Sergio-Francis Mellejor Zenisek

Sergio-Francis Mellejor Zenisek OREGON
Sergio-Francis Mellejor Zenisek, 17, of West Linn, submitted a biochemistry project to the Intel Science Talent Search concerning the chemistry behind the origins of life on Earth, a subject he has researched since eighth grade. Sergio's project explored the reaction of RNA molecules in cell-like structures as a model for the encapsulated chemical reactions that may have led to the first living things. Unlike DNA molecules, which merely carry a genetic code, RNA molecules can both carry a genetic code and enzymatically catalyze chemical reactions that suggest mechanisms involved in the origin of life. By encapsulating RNA in water droplets suspended in oil, Sergio concluded that when RNA is compartmentalized by membranes, recombination can take place, supporting theories of RNA molecules preceeding DNA-based life. At the Oregon Episcopal School in Portland, Sergio is active in soccer and track, co-captain of the Science Bowl and orchestra concertmaster. The son of Joseph and Renelia Zenisek, he is the recipient of many awards in science, writing and poetry, including the Harvard Book Prize. Sergio hopes to pursue studies in the physical sciences at Harvard, Yale or Stanford.

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