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Big Think extends a warm thank you to Cogito and the Center for Talented Youth at John Hopkins University for facilitating this interview.

The researcher describes one of the world’s pre-eminent research institutions for furthering stem cell science.

Question: What was your first day at HSCI like?

Loh:    I felt very intimidated, I think my first day was when I was 12 and it was very, very intimidating being surrounded by people that were over twice as old as me.  And I know I called everyone doctor and it was worshipful.  I was tutoring them for half a year before my mentor said, “Kyle, your numbers are off by a factor of 2 and that’s why nothing is working.” 

Question: What is your daily routine at HSCI?

Loh: I’m given a lot of say on what we do so my mentors and I, we sit down and we decide what to do and so most of my days is spent in something called a tissue culturehood and so basically, it’s this very claustrophobic place where you sit down and that you just try to handle cells and try to grow them and to try to test chemicals on them.  And so we do something that’s called High-Throughput Screening HTS and so it’s basically we can test thousands of compounds… of chemicals to see if they can do things to cells and in our case, we see if they can reprogram cells into embryonic stem cells and so basically, I’m the sharp end of the stick for trying to do that.

Question: Is science too competitive at Harvard?

Loh:    Yeah.  I think that’s a really regrettable part about science ‘cause I really sincerely think from the bottom of my heart that things would get done 10 times faster and everyone would be a lot more happier and meaningful if everyone would work together.  So within Harvard and MIT internally, we have a lot of collaborations but there is definitely a lot of people at other institutions that, some of which we work with and some of which works in similar fields, and so it can be very intense at times but I think it’s a lot healthier everyday if you can wake up and say something like, “I want to do something that can help my friends and try to help people and the world.”