Athens County High School Student Winner of Inaugural Emperor Science Award

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Emily Bails, a student at Alexander High School, has been awarded for her essay on the need to find a cure for cancer in the PBS LearningMedia and Stand Up To Cancer’s Emperor Science Award program.

“I was really excited, because I didn’t think I was going to win. There weren’t many people from the school that entered. My mom didn’t believe me when I told her,” Emily Bails said.

The Emperor Science Award program is an initiative designed to encourage high school students to explore careers in science, specifically cancer research and care, through a unique mentoring opportunity, according to a news release from PBS.

PBS LearningMedia, an online educational resource library for students and teachers, and Stand Up To Cancer received nearly 1,200 applications from eligible 10th and 11th-grade students throughout the U.S. who are interested in pursuing a career in science research. Judges evaluated the students’ applications: written essays submitted online throughout September, addressing why scientific research is so important in finding a cure for cancer, what scientific field they would study and why.

“It asked why cancer research is important and what I would want to do. For the cancer portion, I wrote mostly about brain cancer…and lung cancer, because that’s something that I find interesting. For the research, it was comparing animals, like whales and sharks, because there’s been research on how their cancer is similar to ours,” Bails said.

The 100 Emperor Science Award recipients will have an opportunity to work alongside an esteemed scientist on a rewarding multi-week cancer research project, a Google Chrome Notebook to enhance their studies and to provide access to their mentors for students living in rural and suburban communities, a $1,500 stipend for expenses, and the opportunity to continue the mentoring program for their remaining time in high school, according to the news release.

“They told me that they were going to try and find someone in the region. So, I’m hoping for someone in Hocking [College] or Ohio University for a lab. For the eight weeks, I would get the mentor, and we would decide together what I would be doing. Then, there would be weekly reports, and on the last week, I would have to write an essay telling how I found the process and what I’ve learned. Then I could possibly continue on with the research,” Bails said.

The Emperor Science Awards Program extends the learning and outreach for the PBS documentary, Ken Burns Presents CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES A Film by Barak Goodman.

The Emperor Science Award Program has been made possible by generous support from Founding Donors Genentech, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis. Their support will fund a total of 300 awards through the first three years.

The full list of Emperor Science Award recipients is available at For more information on PBS LearningMedia, visit