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News Release

Tyler Young of McDowell High School in Marion Wins Emperor Science Award

  • One of 100 high school students from across US awarded for passionate essay detailing the need to find a cure for cancer
  • Genentech, Bristol-Myers Squibb & Novartis Make Awards Possible
Research Triangle Park, NC, June 14, 2017—UNC-TV announced that Tyler Young, a rising junior at McDowell High School in Marion, was recently named a winner in the PBS LearningMedia and Stand Up to Cancer Emperor Science Award program. Now in its second year, the Emperor Science Award is designed to encourage high school students to explore careers in science, specifically cancer research and care.

Tyler’s interest in cancer research is personal. “It really hit me when I lost all four of my grandparents to cancer within two years. It took a toll on our family. I decided that I had to do something to fix this.” When a 15-year-old friend died from leukemia, Tyler decided to pursue a career as a pediatric oncologist. “I would hope that one day, cancer research isn’t even necessary.”

“UNC-TV is thrilled and proud to recognize Tyler Young as an Emperor Science Award recipient. Tyler was chosen from hundreds of tenth and eleventh grade students from across the country who are interested in pursuing a career in science and cancer research,” said Erica Starke-Knight, UNC-TV producer of children’s media and education services. “Tyler will represent McDowell High and our entire state as she continues to enhance her knowledge and skills through this one-of-a-kind mentorship program.”

Tyler’s application was chosen from nearly 800 eligible tenth and eleventh grade students across the country. Prominent scientists judged written essays submitted online that addressed why scientific research is so important in finding a cure for cancer, what scientific field they would study and why.

The 100 Emperor Science Award recipients will have an opportunity to conduct research in a lab, virtually or a combination of both, working with an esteemed scientist on a rewarding multi-week cancer research project. Tyler and her peers will each receive a Google Chrome computer to enhance their studies and facilitate access to their mentors, as well as a $1,500 stipend for expenses. Those entering the program for the first year will also be able to apply for a second year.

For Tyler, her summer will be spent collaborating on a research project with Bethany Kerr, PhD at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Comprehensive Cancer Center in Winston-Salem. "I want to spend as much time as possible at Wake Baptist interacting with the kids and the doctors," she said.

The McDowell Class of 2019 student lives with her parents, Jerri Triplett and Matthew Richard Young, in Marion and is active with First United Methodist Church there. In addition to her interest in science, Tyler was part of the sophomore homecoming court at McDowell High School, where she also participated in the cross-country team.

The Emperor Science Award Program extends the learning and outreach for the three-part PBS documentary Ken Burns Presents Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies. (encoring Wednesdays, at 9 PM, starting July 5, on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Channel). Founding Donors Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Novartis funds a total of 300 awards through the first three years.

About UNC-TV
UNC-TV, Public Media North Carolina, provides people of all ages with enriching media through its distinctive array of programs and services online and via four digital channels: UNC-TV—PBS & More, UNC-EX—The Explorer Channel, Rootle—UNC-TV's 24/7 PBS KIDS Channel and the North Carolina Channel—Stories with a Local Accent. UNC-TV’s 12 stations comprise North Carolina’s only statewide television network, made possible through a unique partnership of public investment and private support. Additionally, UNC-TV provides emergency services support for the state and free educational services and resources for teachers.

UNC-TV is committed to producing, broadcasting and sharing content for and about North Carolina, making it the most important source of information about the state. Visit and join the conversation by connecting with us at, @unctv on Twitter and

About Stand Up to Cancer
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2008 by film and media leaders who utilize the industry’s resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, and to increase awareness about cancer prevention as well as progress being made in the fight against the disease. As SU2C’s scientific partner, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and a Scientific Advisory Committee led by Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, conduct rigorous, competitive review processes to identify the best research proposals to recommend for funding, oversee grants administration, and provide expert review of research progress.

Current members of the SU2C Council of Founders and Advisors (CFA) include Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, Lisa Paulsen, Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Pamela Oas Williams, Ellen Ziffren, and Kathleen Lobb. The late Laura Ziskin and the late Noreen Fraser are also co-founders. Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, has served as SU2C’s president since 2011.

About PBS LearningMedia
As America’s largest classroom, PBS offers digital content and services for teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS LearningMedia, a partnership of PBS and WGBH Educational Foundation, is a free and paid media-on-demand service offering educators access to the best of public media and delivers research-based, classroom-ready digital learning experiences to engage students in exploring curriculum concepts that align with National and Common Core State Standards. Nationwide, more than 1.8 million teachers and users have registered access to more than 100,000 digital resources available through PBS LearningMedia. More information about PBS LearningMedia is available at or by following PBS LearningMedia on Twitter and Facebook.

Media Contacts:
  • Erica Starke-Knight, Producer, Children’s Media & Education Services: 919-549-7009,
  • Rebekah Radisch, Assistant Director Communications: 919-548-7177,
Emperor Science Award winner Tyler Young
Tyler Young