2023 Milken ScholarsPhoto 13 of 21
Neo Phuchane is making a good start towards his planned career in medicine. As a researcher with the Santa Rosa Island Research Station, Neo extracted genomic DNA from bees and registered DNA barcodes to track the island's recovering biodiversity. He examined potentially novel bacteria during an ASPIRE internship in biomanufacturing and researched fish otolith proteins for the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Through the University of Southern California's Bridge Undergraduate Science Program, Neo worked in the Morsut Lab developing elongation paths for multicellular structures to guide in-lab growth of synthetic organoids, used to make artificial organs.
Neo graduated as valedictorian of Reseda Charter High School and studied in the Biomedical Science pathway. He is an AP Scholar with Distinction, University of California, Irvine, Summer Surgery Scholar, Elks Most Valuable Student Scholarship semifinalist, and recipient of the National Society of High School Scholars' Academic and Research Paper Scholarship. As co-president of the HOSA–Future Health Professionals club, Neo organized study groups, raised funds and led the club to top-three finishes in state competitions. The founder and president of Reseda's Model United Nations (MUN) chapter, he recruited more than 40 members and led the team to regional and national conferences. Neo also captained Reseda's Academic Decathlon team, tutoring new recruits, organizing group study sessions and trivia contests, and earning top-two finishes in regional competitions.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Neo served as a student health ambassador for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, creating videos to educate elementary and middle schoolers on hand hygiene and vaccine safety. In collaboration with World Peace Initiative (WPI), Neo founded Sanity to raise awareness of mental health and wellness issues. Members create articles and videos on mental health topics for Mind Stories, a WPI project, and Neo teaches the group meditation, a practice he developed when his family temporarily relocated to Thailand.
Neo will study physiological science at UCLA and plans a career in medicine.
All photos should be credited to "Milken Family Foundation" unless otherwise noted.