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A 24-Year-Old Biochemist Won the Miss Virginia Pageant by Performing a Science Experiment Onstage As Her Talent

Camille Schrier won the Miss Virginia pageant on June 22 with an explosive display of talent. The 24-year-old biochemist demonstrated the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide, known as the "elephant toothpaste" reaction because of the streams of foam that shoot out of the graduated cylinders as a result of the catalyzed reaction. She replaced her pageant dress with a lab coat and safety goggles, though she still kept her high heels.

miss virginia science experiment

Many contestants sing, dance, or play an instrument for the talent portion of pageants. Schrier told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that she knew her unconventional talent was a risk but was thrilled that it paid off.

"We are typically an organization that sees people that are fabulous dancers and really talented singers use that as their talent, and so for me to come out there and take a risk and do a science demonstration was very different," she told the newspaper. "As someone who is breaking the boundaries and breaking stereotypes for what talent looks like at Miss America, I wanted to be a little out of the box, and it really worked out."

Virginia Tech, where Schrier earned dual degrees in biochemistry and systems biology, tweeted its congratulations.

Virginia Commonwealth University, where Schrier is earning her doctor of pharmacy degree, also celebrated her win on Twitter.

Schrier plans to use her platform as Miss Virginia to advocate for women in STEM and promote the work of Mind Your Meds, a drug-safety and abuse-prevention program. She will go on to compete in the Miss America pageant in September.

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