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Molly Karna, a senior at the Science and Mathematics Academy at Aberdeen High School, talks with Maj. Gen. Nick Justice Feb. 10 at the Northeastern Maryland Technology Council's 20th anniversary banquet.

EDGEWOOD, Md. -- Maj. Gen. Nick Justice is optimistic about America's future. Molly Karna is one reason why.

Karna, a senior at the Science and Mathematics Academy at Aberdeen High School, has a strong start to a career in solving the scientific challenges of tomorrow.

She worked last summer at Aberdeen Proving Ground with scientists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Weapons and Materials Research Directorate. At ARL, she completed a project, "The Effects of pH on the Fundamental Interactions Between Gold Nanoparticles and DNA."

Justice, APG's senior commander, applauded her efforts Feb. 10 at the Northeastern Maryland Technology Council's 20th anniversary banquet.

"If you don't think your future is in good hands, I would remind you of the young lady who just spoke," Justice said before 200 defense contractors, Army civilians, educators and state and local government officials.

"How many of you understood a word she said'" Justice asked the audience, referring to Karna's description of her research.

Karna said local efforts on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education have provided a strong foundation for her pursuits in college.

"It's crucial that today's children are able to understand today's technology so they can build the technology of tomorrow," she said. "I'm doing actual research as a 17 year old.

"I'm no savant. I'm just a dedicated high school student. Through the opportunities of a STEM-centric curriculum, [I get] to do research for Army defense."

Karna said her courses at the Science and Mathematics Academy helped develop her interest in genetic engineering. She plans to study biomedical engineering and hopes to attend Columbia University in New York City.

Justice, who is also commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, said young scientists are vital to America because technology evolves so rapidly in the 21st century.

As an example of how quickly science shifts, he said computer science was not an academic discipline when he attended the University of Maryland in the 1970s.

"I have the privilege of being around people like that all the time," he said. "That's why I love my job -- bright, brilliant young people who are the future of this country."

Page last updated Mon February 14th, 2011 at 14:46