Gene Williams, 8, has been dusted with baby powder, eaten fried chicken, shared pudding with Bill Cosby, dressed up as a bunch of grapes for an underwear company, solicited for the March of Dimes and looked secure for an insurance company—all of which has made him one of the hottest kids in the TV commercials business since Mason Reese and Rodney Allen Rippy. A second-grader from Columbia, Md., a town between Baltimore and Washington, Gene started his TV career at the age of 5 and has so far not let it interfere with his everyday life. “I like acting,” he says, “but it’s no big deal.” His father, Dr. Eugene Williams, the coordinator of secondary education at Howard University, says, “I am constantly testing Gene to be sure that he is really enjoying himself.” Gene sometimes becomes annoyed if his playmates talk about his work and will deny that the image on the screen is his. “I don’t want anybody to be jealous, and I want them to like me because I’m Gene—not because I’m on TV.” This fall he will be seen on The Bill Cosby Show, but his real ambition is to become a traffic policeman. “I think it would be fun to stand in the middle of the street all day. If you’re a policeman, everyone is very careful not to hit you.”
Lise Desquenne, 18, decided to play a hunch during a Burrillville, R.I. high school biology project. It paid off when she developed a new way to determine blood type using an extract of lima beans. Her process is far more economical than the blood serum technique discovered in 1900 by Nobel Prize winner Karl Landsteiner. With test tubes from her father, a science teacher, her mother’s kitchen blender and shelf space in the family refrigerator to store extracts and blood samples, Lise went to work. Curious about the chemical effect seeds would have on blood, she experimented with a wide variety. She was thrilled to observe that the extract of lima beans caused type A blood to clump or cluster when the two were combined, thus discovering a foolproof way to identify that type. Since then she has found that type O clumps with soybean extract and type B with a different variety of lima bean. For her achievement in health and medicine, Lise was given a medal by the U.S. Army, and last month she got another award at the American Medical Association convention in Dallas where her project was on display. Lise, whose early forays into science included the study of gerbils, will enter the University of Pennsylvania this fall to study veterinary medicine.