A Kids’ Corner I wrote on successful Peninsula School District student Kelli Johnson (Gateway, Jan. 6) prompted a reader to alert me to another PSD success story, this one on Blythe Jane Adamson, daughter of Rocky Bay residents Norman and Lisa McLoughlin.
I remember Blythe as a precocious, bright little girl fascinated by items she gathered from our beach, one who also quickly found the blueberry center of a cake prepared by my wife. Hey! It was just sitting there invitingly.
Blythe’s favorite memories of science and math in PSD were making her first science journal and sketching air flow over plane wings for flight, and also shining a laser through a fish tank full of smoke to see the beam in the fifth grade at Vaughn Elementary.
And at Key Peninsula Middle School, she remembers “solving my first equation with x, y and z in the hallway outside of homeroom while in the sixth grade, and, in the seventh grade, rewriting lyrics to the Dixie Chicks song ‘Wide Open Spaces’ so it was all about tectonic plates.”
In ninth grade at Gig Harbor High, she got frustrated trying to think of a science fair project and concluded: “Everything has already been discovered.” But she competed in the Washington State Science Fair and got second place.
As a high school junior, she recalled standing on the side of the road with her AP Physics class as the teacher drove by honking his horn so the class could learn about wave compression.”
Before her senior year, Blythe spent a summer at Harvard studying biology and HIV/AIDS.
As a GHHS senior, she joined an organic chemistry study group meeting at the Gig Harbor Public Library and participated in side-by-side races with her friend Nina at the whiteboard in AP Calculus to see who could solve the complex integral first.
Today, Blythe is a Ph.D. student in the Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program at the University of Washington, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in microbiology. She holds a master’s in public health epidemiology and is working on her Ph.D. thesis, “Predictors of Immunogenicity in HIV Vaccine Clinical Trials and Investigating Escape Mutations in an HIV-1 Infected Elite Suppressor.”
Blythe has served as a volunteer community health worker in Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa, where she vaccinated infants at the African Bible College Community Clinic, and conducted malaria and TB diagnostics in a microbiology laboratory and supported startup and staff training at the Partners in Hope AIDS clinic.
“As a pharmacoeconomist and epidemiologist, I aim to identify high value drugs, vaccines and diagnostics in development,” Blythe said. “By creating mathematical models of infectious diseases, I conduct comparative-effectiveness research to prioritize clinical research and develop strategies for pharmaceutical portfolios. My experience and passion is in the development of HIV vaccines.”
I’m proud to have known Blythe, another successful product of the Peninsula School District, since she was a little girl.
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at email@example.com.