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Central Texas student excels in science, shares learning fun

September 20, 2018

WACO, Texas (AP) — An asteroid was named after a Midway Independent School District student after his success at the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair this summer.

The Waco Tribune-Herald reports Midway junior Remi Labeille came up with a science project idea far more advanced than your average volcano fueled by baking soda reacting with vinegar.

“I thought of an idea of increasing biofuel in algae,” Labeille said.

His project could have a real-world impact in developing countries.

“Instead of using fossil fuels we’d use biofuels,” he said. “It would be more efficient not only for the environment in terms of (carbon dioxide) production reduction, but it’s also applicable to countries without a lot of money and access to fossil fuel.”

In May, after winning first place at the Texas State Science Fair, Labeille competed in Pittsburgh with about 2,000 students from 75 countries.

“It is just so inspiring that brains like his exist,” Midway spokeswoman Traci Marlin said of Labeille. “There’s hope for the world.”

He took home second place in the Chemical Energy category for his project, “Genetic Engineering Yeast to Produce Lipid-Based Biofuel for the Future.”

The winnings included a cash price of $1,500, two college scholarships and an asteroid named after him.

Next year he hopes to improve on his project using gene editing technology known as CRISPR to alter the DNA.

“He’s going to change the organism to try to increase the yield,” Midway Chemistry teacher Krystle Moos said. “He wants to increase the amount of butanol. He’s actually designing the genes himself.”

In the future, he wants to be able to cure genetic diseases, like cancer and diabetes, using similar technology.

“I think one of the things that I always think of, especially those kids who are advancing in science, they are really solving the world’s problems,” Moos said. “What’s interesting about Remi is that he really pushes to always be thinking about his experiment.

“So the other day during AP chemistry we were talking about a method we were going to be using in lab, his face lit up, and I knew when he came to see me after class he was going to tell me he had found a solution.”

Suzanne Labeille, Remi’s mother, said she first realized his love for science when he was 3 years old.

“I’m so proud of him because he’s worked very, very hard,” she said.

The Midway junior said he hopes more young people become interested in science.

“Most people are curious about the world, and that’s what science is,” he said. “You have to find out what science means to you and go from there.”

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Information from: Waco Tribune-Herald, http://www.wacotrib.com

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