Bellaire teen invited to State of the Union

Li Boynton, 18, was invited by the White House to attend the State of the Union address Wednesday

January 25, 2010 4:35:15 PM PST
A Houston teen will have one of the best seats in the house for this week's State of the Union Address. Li Boynton, 18, was invited by the White House to attend the address Wednesday. And she'll be sitting with First Lady Michelle Obama, so she should get plenty of TV time during the speech.

Boynton will also find out Wednesday if she's a finalist for the Intel Science Talent Search Award, which is the country's oldest and most prestigious high school science competition. The Bellaire High School student entered her paper entitled, "The Use of Bioluminescent Bacteria to Detect Environmental Contaminants," which earned her a spot in the semifinals. The paper details how living organisms that give off light can be used as sensors to detect contaminants in water. Last year, Boynton actually developed a sensor made from bioluminescent bacteria.

"We are extremely proud of Li," says HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier. "She is a fine example of the kind of student that can succeed and grow because of HISD's college bound culture. "Li has already accomplished so many great things and is destined for even more."

Boynton is one of 300 semifinalists for the award, with 40 finalists travel to Washington, D.C. in March to participate in final judging. The top award is $100,000.

Boynton has been accepted to Yale, but has not yet made a final decision on where she'll go. She may major in molecular and developmental biology.

The White House released a statement on Monday on why Boynton was selected to sit with the First Lady. Here's the statement:

    "The President has repeatedly stated that he is counting on today's students to meet the Grand Challenges of the 21st century -- challenges such as developing new domestic energy sources that will fuel the economy while reducing dependence on foreign oil and protecting the climate, and delivering better health care for Americans at lower cost. The White House sees in Li Boynton's early achievements inspiring evidence that she is among the Nation's next generation of leaders who will meet these challenges. Her work developing a novel method of detecting contaminants in water -- a problem that haunts one billion people around the world today--reflected a great confluence of scientific insight and caring for others. We hope other students will look at what she has done and will be inspired to immerse themselves in science, engineering and math and do their part for the nation and the world."