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Davis Journal

Senior at Farmington High School is a Yeager scholar

Apr 05, 2021 01:20PM ● By Peri Kinder

FARMINGTON—This fall, Farmington High School senior Sierra Lutz will attend Marshall University in West Virginia as a Yeager Scholar. One of only eight students selected for the honor each year, Lutz earned the scholarship through her research and love for microbiology.

Lutz recently took first-place honors in the microbiology category at the Davis School District STEM Fair for her discovery of new DNA polymerases and their application in the polymerase chain reaction that amplifies a segment of DNA. Studying bacteria from hot springs in several locations around Utah and Idaho, Lutz gathered samples, grew bacteria and highlighted the potential of new DNA polymerases. 

“I didn’t get into science until seventh grade at Farmington Junior High where Mr. (Eric) Pratt got me hooked and encouraged me,” she said. “Science is so rewarding. If you like asking questions and discovering things, you’ll love science.”

When she learned about the Yeager Scholarship, she knew it would take her to the next level of microbiology and biochemistry study. She applied and went through several rounds of interviews before learning she’d been accepted. Lutz plans to visit the campus at Marshall University during spring break and can’t wait to start the next adventure.

“When I was offered the scholarship, it was an immediate yes. I’ve wanted it for awhile,” she said. “I’ve lived in the same house all my life. I’m definitely ready to get out of Utah.”

Lutz credits FHS with providing students up-to-date research equipment and the resources necessary for success. She feels lucky to have worked with several mentors, including FHS AP Chemistry advisor Jana Barrow who taught Lutz during her three years attending the school.

“Her passionate curiosity and her ability to problem solve are her biggest strengths,” Barrow said. “She doesn’t allow a set-back to stop her . . . She is interested, curious and passionate at what she does. She’s not afraid to ask questions.There are no boundaries to her.”

Lutz’s next challenge is the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair where she will compete against thousands of students from nearly 100 countries. Barrow believes Lutz has a good chance to do well at this competition and considers her a role model for other students who might pursue a career in science.

“She doesn’t have an elitist attitude,” Barrow said. “She took AP Chemistry as a sophomore and last year she would tutor students. She even told kids that if they had questions about AP Chemistry, they could call her next year in Virginia.”

As Lutz prepares for STEM competitions and graduation, she is looking forward to taking her passion for biochemistry to the East Coast, ready to conquer her next venture.

“I feel so very lucky,” Lutz said. “I’m very excited for what the future holds.”