By Lauren Lipton

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — He is only a freshman in pre-med at Duke, and already has been published for his high school research, which began with his winning project at the annual Delaware Valley Science Fairs.

“I had a bio teacher in 8th grade who made me do science fair the first time. I wasn’t really a huge science kid. That really opened my eyes to the sciences and made me love it,” said Ralph Lawton.

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Lawton is from Avondale, and his project was on e-cigarettes and how they affect lung cells.

“I spent my junior year in a lab at Penn trying to condense out e-cigarette vapors. Then my work got noticed by someone at Buffalo, and then I got brought up to Buffalo for the next summer. And that was when I ended up being published in a major public health journal,” he said.

And the results?

“Things like voltage and the flavors that you use can really significantly affect the amount of damage that e-cigarettes do,” Lawton explained. “There are things like the pina colada flavor, that’d be something that’s comparatively safe. Things like higher temperature ones do a lot more damage, lower temperature ones do a lot less damage.”

The Delaware Valley Science Fairs begin next month. (April 4th to April 6th)

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The mission of DVSF is to provide an impetus for young people to develop a love of science and technology through doing research projects with the hope that they will choose careers in science or engineering.

“I can’t say enough about how great the Delaware Valley program is,” said Lawton.

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And for this week, that’s “Positively Philadelphia!”

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