student_fan2When Kara Fan was in the fifth grade, her FLL (First Lego League) Robotics team won the best robot design at the Southern California competition. Her interest in STEAM continued and expanded when she got to middle school and joined numerous science fairs. This past year, her project won first place in the microbiology category at the Greater San Diego Science Fair, and Kara was also nominated for the Broadcom MASTERS science competition. “I am fortunate to be selected as one of 10 finalists of the 3M Young Scientist Challenge 2019,” she said.

Kara’s project is called Nanoparticles in Liquid Bandage. It involves the use of copper or silver nanoparticles in liquid bandage form to kill bacteria in a minor wound. “I wanted to find a different way to kill bacteria instead of using an antibiotics drug,” Kara explained. “Some challenges were synthesizing the nanoparticles because I couldn’t get the copper nanoparticles to kill bacteria. On the other hand, the silver nanoparticles did kill bacteria.”

Name: Kara Fan (14)
School: Westview High School
Grade: 9
Parents: David Fan and Vivian Wang
Sibling: Leanne Fan (11)


St. Paul, Minnesota – home of the 3M headquarters – will host the finals in October, where each finalist will be assigned a mentor to help them improve their project. “I am most excited to meet with other finalists in St. Paul and learn about their inventions,” Kara shared. Speaking of mentors, she’s been inspired by a passionate young scientist who won the challenge two years prior: Hannah Herbst. Her projects and TED Talks are motivations to Kara. “Hannah just won first place at Intel International science fair in June. I am so happy for her.”

Outside of her science adventures, Kara plays golf and the piano. Torrey Highlands has been her home all her life, and she loves that she can walk to school from her neighborhood. She finished at Mesa Verde Middle School and will be moving on to Westview High in the fall, with a favorite school subject being, of course, science! Her volunteer experiences include food packing for people in Haiti and here at home for the San Diego Food Bank. “I don’t have any college plans yet,” she shared, “but I would like to become a doctor someday.”