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Sunset student a finalist in epidemiology contest

Sunset High School junior Tom Tee was awarded a $2,000 scholarship during the weekend after being named one of 60 finalists in the Young Epidemiology Scholars Competition.

Tee received the award at one of the nation's most prestigious and influential high school science competitions, held in Washington, D.C.

'It was a good experience; my presentation went exactly as I wanted it to,' Tee said. 'It was better than expected.'

Although he didn't make it to the top 12 finalists (Tee thought his presentation was as good as many of the others), he said he was happy to be in the nation's capital.

Tee's project was 'Measuring Oregon's Economic Loss of a 1918-like Pandemic Occurring Today.'

He said he got the idea from his economics class.

'After I talked about the project with my economics teacher (John Farra), I spent the summer working on it,' said Tee.

What he discovered was that assuming the same mortality rate as the 1918 flu pandemic occurred today, it wouldn't result in significant economic losses and Oregon's economy would remain intact.

Winners of the event - two students each were awarded $50,000 college scholarship - were selected by a panel of judges that included some of the nation's top epidemiologists, as well as high school teachers and curriculum developers.

The event was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered by the College Board.

Tee was selected from more than 700 students from across the nation in a competition designed to spur students' interest in the field of public health, specifically epidemiology.

Finalists were judged on the basis of their written reports, presentations and question-and-answer sessions.

All competitors developed a research question and hypothesis about a health issue that concerns a group or groups of people, then analyzed the subject and suggested ways to improve the situation based on their analysis.