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Incoming Aggie Science Student Meets President Obama at White House

Thursday, Feb. 09, 2012

Jayme Warner and group in front of the White House in Washington, D.C.

Jayme Warner, far right, pauses for a photo with fellow national science award recipients as they prepare to attend the second annual White House Science Fair Feb. 7, as guests of President Barack Obama. Warner enters USU next fall.

Alan Warner, Jayme Warner and Neil deGrasse Tyson at the White House

Warner, center, and her father Alan Warner, left, visit with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of the PBS program 'NOVA Science Now,' at a Feb. 7 White House ceremony honoring young scientists.

Future Aggie Jayme Warner is still walking on air after a whirlwind trip this week to Washington, D.C., that included a VIP invitation to the White House and the opportunity to shake hands with President Obama.

“I keep thinking ‘When am I going to wake up?’” says the 17-year-old junior at InTech Collegiate High School on Utah State University’s Innovation Campus. “There aren’t words to describe it.”

Warner was among about 100 teens from throughout the nation invited to participate in the second annual White House Science Fair Feb. 7. Guests included middle and high school-age recipients of top science and mathematics competitions. Warner was invited as the 2011 winner of the senior division of the DuPont Challenge Science Essay Competition.

At the East Room ceremony, Warner was seated on a platform about six feet from President Obama, as her father, USU alum Alan Warner ‘99, and science teacher, Stephanie Kawamura, watched from the audience. Also in attendance were NASA head and veteran astronaut Charles Bolden, along with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of the PBS program “NOVA Science Now;” Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage of Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters,” and television personality Bill Nye the Science Guy.

“It was completely amazing — the highest honor I could imagine,” Warner says.  

In a 15-minute address, Obama praised the young scientists, along with their parents and teachers, for their dedication to scientific discovery and their work toward solutions to the world’s challenges.

“You guys inspire me,” he told honorees. “When you work and study and excel at what you’re doing in math and science, when you compete in something like this, you’re not just trying to win a prize today. You’re getting America in shape to win the future.”

Obama wasn’t the only White House occupant Warner met during her visit.

“As my dad, Dr. Kawamura and I were leaving, we saw First Dog Bo racing down a hallway with his handler,” she says. “I asked if I could pet him and his handler said ‘He never slows down!”

Warner’s winning essay, “Salt: Enhancing Lives One Breath at a Time,” was selected from more than 9,000 entries for the DuPont prize. The paper details innovations in Cystic Fibrosis research; a topic near and dear to Warner, whose sister copes with the disease.

Warner graduates early from high school this spring and plans to enter USU next fall. Though she’s been courted by numerous schools, including Harvard, BYU and the University of Utah, Warner says she’s most impressed by Utah State’s offerings.

“I chose USU for two main reasons,” she says. “One is the impressive Honors program and the other is USU’s amazing undergraduate research opportunities. I can get involved in research right away as a freshman — something that not all schools offer.”

Warner, who hopes to enter medical school following college graduation, plans to major in molecular and cellular biology.

“I’m interested in oncology and pursuing cancer research,” she says. “I’ve watched friends who’ve struggled with cancer. I think oncology would be a very rewarding field.”

Beyond the science lab, Warner enjoys languages and currently studies Spanish. She’d also like to learn Chinese and plans to participate in a study aboard program during her undergraduate career.

The young scientist also enjoys music (“I always listen to classical music when studying”) and theater. A member of Logan Youth Shakespeare, she performed in two of the troupe’s recent productions, appearing as Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Prospero in The Tempest.

“I’m excited about getting involved in different activities at USU,” Warner says. “But what I’d really like to do is become an Aggie Ambassador. Every time I visit Utah State and meet an ambassador I think ‘That would be the most fun job in the world.’”

Related links:

President Obama Addresses National Science Honorees (Video)

Teens Find the ‘Right Chemistry’ at USU Summer Gathering,” Utah State Today

Contact: Stephanie Kawamura, Intech Collegiate High School,

Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

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