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President Ing-wen Tsai receives and encourages Taiwan students who win at Intel ISEF

Chih-yuen Wu in her ROC Air Force Academy uniform looked very distinctive in a group of senior high school students. Therefore, when the Taiwan winners at the 2016 Intel International Science Fair (ISEF) had an audience with President Tsai Ing-wen in mid-July, Tsai curiously asked Wu about her past education background. As the commander-in-chief of armed forces, Tsai was pleased that an outstanding young scientist like Wu could join the military.

Wu’s Immune Reactions of Encapsulation in Cockroaches study won a Fourth Award in Animal Sciences at ISEF 2016. She did her study when she was a student at Taipei Municipal Zhongshan Girls High School last year. Her experiment of more than one thousand cockroaches found that cockroaches are different from other insects because the former’s adaptive immunity is capable of friend and foe identification and has memory. Therefore, cockroaches could probably replace mammals in drug experiments. Her experiment made her stay with cockroaches for three years, earning her a nickname “cockroach girl” because she would become highly excited when talking about cockroaches.

Mammal immunity is capable of self and non-self identification and has memory but whether insects are the same is uncertain. After an antigen is injected into the human body, the attacked immunocyte has memory to identify the antigen and will be able to fight the invading virus in the future. This is how vaccines work. Now, Wu’s study found cockroaches’ immunity has memory, and cockroaches would therefore be highly affordable and readily available to replace mammals in immunity experiments.

President Tsai Ing-wen also commended others winners. According to Tsai, the winners invited to her office first won at the Taiwan International Science Fair and then took part in various science contests around the world on behalf of Taiwan. They won many awards and are believed to have benefited from both knowledge growth and overseas experiences. Intel ISEF can be considered the Nobel Prizes in a smaller scale. Every year students from Taiwan take part in the Intel event to compete and learn from their 1,500 peers from more than 70 countries around the world. She is proud of the Taiwan students who have been winning at Intel ISEF over the years. In her opinion, scientific research is sometimes a lonesome job that not many people can understand although the world of sciences is wonderful. Therefore, scientists need great enthusiasm in addition to patience and perseverance in order to keep on exploring facts and truths. She encouraged the student winners to maintain their patience, perseverance, and enthusiasm in order to become successful no matter what their future careers are.


Wu’s success at Intel ISEF can be attributed to her long-time hard work as well as relevant teacher and professor counseling. Moreover, corporate and foundation sponsorships account for the smooth implementation and success of the Taiwan International Science Fair.



Eight of the nine works provided by thirteen Taiwan senior high school students at Intel ISEF 2016 win awards, a record high since Taiwan’s participation in the Intel event.
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