High school student Madeleine Yang is working on research to create a universal flu vaccine.

Since her freshman year, Yang had been working under the tutelage of Fei Wen, PhD, whose lab at the University of Michigan works on building particles that could one day form the basis for a universal flu vaccine — one that one that works for any strain of the virus. Now a high school senior in Beverly Hills, Michigan, Yang won $100,000 with a fourth-place finish at the Regeneron Science Talent Search earlier in March. As she looks forward to a career in science, she tells Inverse that she’s constantly thinking about how to improve people’s lives.

“My own community in Detroit was particularly hard hit by this extremely virulent strain of type A influenza, and this put the lives of many children, and especially patients in nursing homes, at risk,” she recalls.