Teens from 18 states will soon face off in the finals of the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search, the nation’s most prestigious science research competition for high school seniors. Prizes have been bumped up markedly this year: Each of the three top awards is $150,000 and, taken together, the prizes now total more than $1 million.
The 40 finalists will visit Washington, D.C., from March 5 to 11. There, they will present their research to judges and the public. During more relaxed times, the teens will tour a number of national landmarks. The climax of the week will be a black-tie awards gala at the National Building Museum.
Intel STS finalists “are some of the best and brightest young scientists in the nation,” says Maya Ajmera, president and chief executive officer of Society for Science & the Public, which publishes Science News. “As an alumna of the Science Talent Search, I am especially proud to join with Intel in congratulating the finalists on their successes,” Ajmera says.
As always, the finalists’ research projects are diverse. One student invented a low-cost, portable device to detect blood diseases and parasites. Another developed advanced mathematical techniques to encrypt data. Yet another created computerized methods to search for promising treatments for diseases such as cancer and Ebola.
“This year’s finalists engaged in leading-edge scientific research and the creation of new technology to address global challenges such as renewable energy, cybersecurity and infectious diseases,” observes Justin Rattner. The teens’ accomplishments “prove that with the right education and resources, young people can indeed change the world,” he adds. Rattner is president of the Intel Foundation, based in Hillsboro, Ore.
Society for Science & the Public is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education. It has owned and run the Science Talent Search since the competition’s creation in 1942. Intel became the title sponsor of the competition 17 years ago. Since then, annual awards and scholarships associated with this program have increased from $205,000 to more than $1.6 million.
Past finalists have gone on to distinguished research careers, earning more than 100 of the world’s most coveted scientific accolades. Among those honors are eight Nobel prizes, two Fields Medals (for outstanding discoveries in mathematics), five National Medals of Science and 12 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships.
This year’s crop of young researchers includes 19 girls and 21 boys from 36 high schools. Previously, judges had narrowed the field to 300 semifinalists from more than 1,800 entries.
Last year’s top prize went to Eric Chen of San Diego. He used computer models to look for potential new drugs to fight influenza. Second-place honors went to Kevin Lee of Irvine, Calif. He developed a mathematical model to describe the shape of a beating heart. William Henry Kuszmaul of Lexington, Mass., claimed last year’s third-place award. Results of his math project could help researchers in fields such as computer science and computational biology.
Anvita Gupta, BASIS Scottsdale, Scottsdale
Augustine George Chemparathy, Dougherty Valley High School, San Ramon;
Andrew Jin, The Harker School, San Jose;
Somya Khare, Lynbrook High School, San Jose;
Rohith Kuditipudi, The Harker School, San Jose;
Kriti Lall, Castilleja School, Palo Alto;
Janel Lee, Amador Valley High School, Pleasanton;
Yelena Mandelshtam, University High School, Irvine;
Jennifer McCleary, Arnold O. Beckman High School, Irvine;
Saranesh Prembabu, Dougherty Valley High School, San Ramon;
Tanay Tandon, Cupertino High School, Cupertino;
Steven Michael Wang, The Harker School, San Jose
Jesse Zhang, Fairview High School, Boulder
Catherine J. Li, Lake Highland Preparatory School, Orlando
Ryan D’Mello, Benet Academy, Lisle
Noah Golowich, Lexington High School, Lexington
Michael Winer, Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring;
Yizhen Zhang, Richard Montgomery High School, Rockville
Eswar Anandapadmanaban, Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School, Jersey City;
Nicole Eskow, Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology, Hackensack;
Brice Huang, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North, Plainsboro;
Alexander Lin, Millburn High School, Millburn
Samuel Epstein, John F. Kennedy High School, Bellmore;
Kalia D. Firester, Hunter College High School, New York City;
Charles Gulian, Ossining High School, Ossining;
Ien Li, Jericho Senior High School, Jericho;
Scott Massa, Commack High School, Commack;
Max Pine, Pelham Memorial High School, Pelham;
Tiffany Sun, Roslyn High School, Roslyn Heights;
Crystal Zheng, Jericho Senior High School, Jericho
Emily Lorin Ashkin, Providence Day School, Charlotte
Emily Jane Spencer, Hathaway Brown School, Shaker Heights
Valerie S. Ding, The Catlin Gabel School, Portland;
Anika Raghuvanshi, Jesuit High School, Portland
Shashwat Kishore, Unionville High School, Kennett Square
Lily Liu, Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Denton
Brandon Bicheng Cui, Hillcrest High School, Midvale
Anya Michaelsen, Lake Braddock Secondary School, Burke
Reesab Pathak, Camas High School, Camas
Dhaivat Nitin Pandya, Appleton North High School, Appleton
Finalists are listed by state, name, high school’s name and city.