Aren't these profiles fun? Today we welcome Scott Boisvert to Gifted Exchange. Boisvert, 17, hails from Chandler, Arizona. His project connected amphibian aquatic environment conditions with a pathogen that has contributed to the loss of 32 percent of amphibian species worldwide. You can read more about him and his project here.
Gifted Exchange: How did you come up with your topic?
Boisvert: In 2007 I was Jr. High Grand Finalist at the AZ Science and Engineering Fair, and attended Intel ISEF as an observer. Being at ISEF really inspired me to do a great research project so I could go back the following year, this time to compete. I searched the Arizona State University website looking for professors doing research in the biological sciences. I sent out a lot of emails, but because I was only 14 I got mostly thank you for your interests but no thanks. I finally met Dr. Elizabeth Davidson after an email introduction from my biology teacher, and she agreed to give me a chance. I met with her at ASU, toured her lab, and she described the work being done for amphibians because of global population decline, and some of the history with B. dendrobatidis. I was interested as I hadn’t heard about this problem. I searched online, read a few articles, and watched a PBS documentary about threats to amphibians. I remembered growing up in Michigan, spending many afternoons sitting along a creek near my home watching and trying to catch frogs. This early science exploration held my attention for hours. When I thought about amphibians facing a real threat of mass extinction, I couldn’t accept the idea that one day my children or grandchildren may not be able to enjoy those same experiences. I was inspired to find something that could help, and that moment confirmed my interest in this research.
GE: As you were doing your project, were there any skills or things you'd learned earlier that turned out to be important?
Boisvert: A natural interest in science and math was my preparation. In terms of conducting the actual research, there were no skills that I had previously learned that benefited me. All of the research skills were learned during the course of my research project as I found the need to utilize a different technique or approach. Despite this, I drew upon valuable lessons that I learned growing up in order to successfully complete my project. Skills such as time management, attention to detail, good reading and writing, and an overall strong work ethic were crucial. Without my upbringing both at home and at school I would never have been able to have the dedication necessary to complete such a lengthy study.
GE: What was the most fun part of your project?
Boisvert: The field work had to have been the most fun aspect of my project. Growing up, my family used to take long road trips from Michigan to Rhode Island in order to visit family, and did a lot of outdoor exploration trips too. I came to love driving, which is a good thing considering all of the driving necessary to collect water samples for my projects. I really like being outdoors, and I got to see a lot of new places in Arizona. Traipsing down embankments and through prickly underbrush to collect my samples was an adventure in itself, especially finding the water as we do live in a desert.
GE: Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Boisvert: In 20 years I see myself having completed an MD/PhD degree, toward my goal of becoming a physician scientist. By this time I should have finished my residency, or at least be close, depending on the specialty I select. After this step, I see myself working in a research hospital, or at another clinical institution, while having an affiliate group at an independent or academic-based research lab. These options will allow me to participate in clinical research endeavors while maintaining my primary goal of becoming a physician. Aside from my career, I hope to be starting on a family of my own at this point too.