DELPHOS — Lizzie Chung graduated from Delphos Jefferson High school on Saturday.
That was her second graduation this month.
She graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in biology almost two weeks earlier.
“My ultimate goal is to get to the MD/Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School. program to study neurosurgery and biophysics,” said Lizzie. “It gives me more of a chance to do higher level research and refine the skills I’m currently working on.”
Lizzie’s life has taken some twists and turns, but she has always been motivated to succeed. She spent a lot of time helping her father. Her father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2002, a year before Lizzie was born. By the time Lizzie was in eighth grade, her father’s health had deteriorated. It was then that Lizzie decided to take classes that would allow her schedule to be more flexible so she could help with her father’s care. Her father, Howard, died of complications from multiple sclerosis on July 30, 2018, before the plan could be implemented. She still went on to take college courses through the College Credit Plus program.
“I think my siblings and I had to make mature decisions or maybe show a little more maturity than someone normally would at that age just because our dad was in the hospital when we were growing up,” she said.
This summer, Lizzie is doing an internship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she is studying biological engineering. She thinks her study will include vaccine data with machine learning and something with immunotherapies, but nothing is definitive.
“I’m really interested in immunology and neuroimmunology because I’m really interested in multiple sclerosis,” she said.
She has worked at Ohio State, MIT and Harvard. At Ohio State, she was involved in microbiological research into biomechanisms for genetically engineered bacterial cells. At MIT she did chemical engineering research with genome engineering. At Harvard she researched COVID data analysis. Lizzie worked in a program in biostatistics and computational biology at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
Although she started college at age 14, it’s not all books for Lizzie. She hosts a podcast called “Doc Talk With Liz.” In her podcast, Lizzie talks to researchers and physicians on a wide variety of topics, including cell biology, neurobiology, art therapy, biophysics, and protein engineering. Sports is also a part of her life. She was on the high school varsity soccer team for four years. Her social life sounds like other teenagers.
“I spend time with people,” she says. “I am not antisocial. I like to spend time with my friends and I like to go out and do things. I like to travel when I can. I love painting. I like to watch movies. I do a lot of other things besides studying.”
Long-term goals include giving back to the community. “I want to invest in science centers around the areas of Lima and Delphos because I’ve noticed through the things I’ve done that a lot of people who come to the really top institutions have had a lot of opportunities early in their lives.”
Lizzie’s sister Alexa says the obvious when describing her sister.
“She’s very motivated and she’s really determined to achieve her goals,” she said. “She never forgets her family, which is always nice.”
Lizzie Chung has had many experiences that not every teenager can imagine. Her experiences and family ties will continue to serve as motivators in her efforts to unravel the mysteries of multiple sclerosis.
Lizzie Chung graduated from Delphos Jefferson High School almost two weeks after receiving her degree in biology from Ohio State University with an honors award and an honors degree.
Lizzie Chung with her sister Alexa
Reach Dean Brown at 567-242-0409.