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Lilia Popova, 17, of Ann Arbor, examined the effects of magnetic fields on plant cell growth at the molecular level for the plant science project she submitted to the Intel Science Talent Search. In an earlier study, she had determined that weak magnets alter the degree and orientation of plant growth, and now she delved deeper. She studied two related plant species (R. sativus and A. thaliana) to explore the underlying environmental and genetic factors that can be altered by static magnetic fields (SMFs). She discovered that weak SMFs can influence plant nutrient and water absorption, as well as changes in gene expression, and described in detail how they affect plant growth. She believes her findings could have applications in biotechnology, sustainable agriculture and biofuel production. Lilia is president of the Key Club at Ann Arbor Huron High School and has logged more than 150 volunteer hours. She played field hockey for three years and captained the junior varsity team. Active in the choral program for four years, Lilia sings with both the A Capella and Chamber Choirs. Fluent in Bulgarian, her mother tongue, she is the daughter of Chavdar Popov and Antonia Popova.
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