Muna Oli, Young Scientist
Published: 24 Feb 2011, by: Julie Garrett
When Muna Oli was 13, she accompanied her parents, wildlife ecologist Madan Oli and microbiologist Monika Oli, on a five-week trip to her father’s home village in Nepal. Not only did she bond with extended family, she also saw firsthand the suffering caused by extreme poverty and easily treatable illnesses. That journey made a huge impression on Muna, cementing her interest in science and medicine.
Muna, 18, is a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at Eastside High School and has been dual-enrolled at the University of Florida since she was 14. She’s aced classes at UF such as Intro to Nanotechnology and Intro to Biomedical Engineering. She intends to earn an MD/Ph.D. so that she can be both a clinical practitioner and researcher.
Her research in the UF labs of mentors Kevin Powers and Brent Reynolds focuses on gold nanorods and aptamers. She is using gold nanorods and a low-energy laser to heat and destroy cancer cells. Someday, this technology could become a high efficacy and low-side-effect treatment for cancer, since it leaves healthy tissue unharmed.
Muna’s research has already garnered her attention in the science world from here to California. She’s won numerous awards in competitions such as the International BioGENEius Challenge and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, published her research, and been a frequent speaker. Last year, she guest edited a special issue on nanotechnology for the Young Scientists Journal.