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Anna Zheng ’18 Earns Top Science Fair Honors

Saint John’s Preparatory School is proud to announce Anna Zheng ’18 received the top award in the regional Minnesota State Science & Engineering Fair. Her project, “Assessing Epilepsy Medicine by Measuring the Planarian Neural Activity Using Suction Electrode and Patch Clamp Amplifier,” was one of two projects to earn the highest honor out of 200 competitors. She is now advancing to the state and national competitions. For her work, she earned an all-expense-paid trip to represent Central Minnesota at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, California.

Anna Zheng ’18

Anna is the daughter of Yi Zheng, Ph.D. and Weining Hu, MD. of Cold Spring. Anna’s brother, Eugene, is a 2010 graduate of Saint John’s Prep.

Anna conducted her research while working in the Integrated Research Lab, ISELF, lab at St. Cloud State University with Dr. Latha Ramakrishnan, Ph.D. Anna used a procedure to visually count planaria seizure moments when they were immersed in convulsant and anticonvulsant solutions. Anna’s work measured neural activity using a self-made suction electrode to provide a more objective measurement of how the anticonvulsant regulates the planaria.

This is important research for Anna, “Epilepsy is a medical condition that affects millions across the world, and it’s very hard to measure the effectiveness of anti-seizure medication. For me to contribute to research in this area is very rewarding. It also provided me a broader understanding of research and developed my interest in neuroscience.”

The Minnesota State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) is an annual competition in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Anna will attend the MSSEF fair in Minneapolis later this month. Anna is also one of two finalists to represent Central Minnesota at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in California in May.

“I am very excited to attend the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. The opportunity to present and learn from fellow students there will be a once in a lifetime experience, and I really want to soak it all in and really enjoy this opportunity.”

Anna enjoys studying math and science at Saint John’s Prep. She hopes to eventually attend medical school and continue with a focus on neurology.  “I want to acknowledge the education that Saint John’s Prep has provided me since 6th grade. Saint John’s Prep’s science program has really prepared me well for this research, while the humanities have helped develop my critical thinking skills, which is very important for problem solving.”

Besides science, Anna is a very involved student at Saint John’s Prep. She is a member of the tennis and track teams. She is also a member of Chinese club, She’s the First organization, and math team. She also plays the violin in the school orchestra. She dances ballet and has danced as ‘Clara‘ in the Stroia Ballet Company’s production of The Nutcracker for the past three years.
Founded in 1857, Saint John’s Prep is a Catholic/Benedictine, co-ed, private day and boarding school, providing students of all faiths in grades 6-12, with a college-preparatory curriculum. Visit Prep on April 7 on our next Discovery Day. For more information, visit or call 320-363-3315.