Lockyer District State High School student Paul Amongol, participating in the SPARQ-ed program at UQ in Brisbane.
Lockyer District State High School student Paul Amongol, participating in the SPARQ-ed program at UQ in Brisbane.

Gatton student contributes to world-first science research

A YEAR 11 Gatton high school student has contributed to world-first, live-saving research to prolong the lifespan of people living with cystic fibrosis.

Paul Amongol, a Year 11 student at Lockyer District State High School, was one of about 20 students to work alongside leading researcher Doctor Timothy Wells at the University of Queensland in a SPARQ-ed program.

“It’s not every day a high school student gets to experience research like that,” Paul said.

“Particular when it was a project that had never been done before in the world.”

The project focused on immunology, where students were provided with a human serum from patients at the PA hospital that were infected with a particular bacterium.

Paul said the bacteria was particularly dangerous for people diagnosed with cystic fibrosis or Bronchiectasis, as it could cause a chronic lung infection.

Lockyer District State High School student Paul Amongol, participating in the SPARQ-ed program at UQ in Brisbane.
Lockyer District State High School student Paul Amongol, participating in the SPARQ-ed program at UQ in Brisbane.

He said the presence of the particular bacteria in the respiratory tract would greatly increase the risk of mortality.

“It was a good opportunity to see what it would be like to work as an actual scientist,” Paul said.

Paul was one of two students to be awarded the Lions Medical Research Foundation SPARQ-Ed regional and Remote student scholarship which helped with his accommodation in Brisbane, and transport.

The school captain said he wants to pursue a career in dermatology, but first has his sights set on studying a Bachelor of Advanced science at the University of Queensland with an aim to major in biomedicine.

He then plans to gain a PHD before studying medicine.

“Science surrounds us. Literally everything we are is science, and once you get to know the scientific concepts behind everyday things we take for granted – it’s a whole different world that we have never really realised,” he said.

Paul said his passion for science dates back to when he was a child living in the Philippines.

“My dad sent me a Pokemon game from Australia, and I wanted to do become a scientist to make Pokemon real,” he laughed.

With STEM a major focus at schools, Paul said students wanting to study science shouldn’t be discouraged.

“I would say to anyone that’s leaning towards the STEM field but isn’t sure – don’t let the opinions of other people discourage you from going into STEM,” he said.

“It’s not their passion that’s going to carry you.”

In addition to his research scholarship, Paul was also accepted into the University of Queensland Student Work Experience program.

Head of mathematics Christie Robb said the school was excited one of its students was successful in receiving a placement with such amazing opportunities.

“Paul is an outstanding individual and to have him seek out this placement to expand and trial his possible futures is a credit to him,” she said.

“We know that Paul would be an excellent ambassador for our school at events such as this. “


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