March 22, 2024

In a recent interview, we had the opportunity to sit down with Ethan Zhou, a junior at the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Sciences, to dive deeper into his STEM journey with AEOP. Join us as we learn about his experiences with AEOP, his groundbreaking research projects, and the role of STEM in his professional and academic life. 

Ethan’s AEOP Journey and Research Interests

Ethan’s AEOP experience started with GEMS in 2020; this experience launched his passion for STEM. The summer of 2022, he secured an AEOP internship at UMass Lowell, immersing himself in a full-time lab environment. The experience provided him with the opportunity to delve into professional STEM work and hone his skills while working in a chemistry lab – a first for him. 

In fact, one of his favorite memories from AEOP was his hands-on internship experience at UMass, during which he worked on organic photovoltaic technology threads and contributed to the development of solar-powered technology. Additionally, he helped ensure the cladding materials around the wires used for the technology resisted heat and corrosion to improve photovoltaic devices’ long-term stability. The experience not only helped him understand complex concepts but also led to lasting connections with colleagues and friends.

In addition to participating in AEOP, Ethan also actively pursues STEM competitions to showcase his research and further his knowledge. Through AEOP’s Travel Award, he was able to attend the American Meteorological Society conference, where Ethan and his team presented their research project: a climate simulator that uses a mathematical model to predict future temperatures based on scenarios of fossil fuel usage.  

This opportunity also offered Ethan a unique platform for networking with like-minded researchers and college students, enabling him to broaden his understanding of climate-related topics. His team was the only high school team selected to participate in the event. 

More recently, Ethan participated in this year’s regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Here, he presented his climate simulator and engaged with other students and STEM professionals who provided valuable feedback and insights into how he can improve his research project, presentation skills, and expand his knowledge of the numerous opportunities available in the world of STEM. 

At school, Ethan is also heavily involved in STEM activities and research opportunities that address real-world issues.  His school, which is a magnet school hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), offers a challenging STEM-based curriculum that allows him to engage in independent projects that fuel his passion for science. In February, he presented his independent project on e-waste, shedding light on the environmental impact of electronic waste and proposed sustainable solutions to address this environmental crisis. 

Giving back to AEOP

In addition to his participation in AEOP programs, Ethan is an active member of the AEOP Membership Council, where he is hoping to give back to the organization that supported his STEM journey. His goal is to amplify AEOP’s impact through outreach efforts and strategic communications to engage more students interested in STEM. 

Ethan’s advice for those interested in STEM and AEOP programs is to fully immerse themselves in STEM activities within and outside school. He encourages fellow students to pursue their passion projects, apply for programs like JSHS and explore the number of opportunities available through AEOP.

Looking Ahead… 

Ethan is dedicated to advancing his projects on e-waste management and meteorology, focusing on addressing climate change. He plans to continue contributing to the AEOP Membership Council, organizing meetups in his state and promoting STEM opportunities in the area. Next summer, Ethan hopes to gain more hands-on experience in a STEM lab and secure another AEOP internship. 

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