Science superstars

Forty Intel Science Talent Search 2010 finalists announced

Forty high school students have entered the final heat in the race to win the nation’s longest-running precollege science competition, the Intel Science Talent Search. This year’s finalists were selected from a pool of 1,736 entrants and will now compete for shares of $630,000 in scholarships.

In March, the finalists will travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with national leaders and to undergo rigorous judging of their work. The young investigators will also present their original research in science, math and engineering at the National Academy of Sciences headquarters. This year’s final 40 have performed research on topics such as stem cell development, stars in the Andromeda galaxy, mosquito mating behavior and the pollution found in rivers.

“It is critical to encourage and reward young people who have the interest and capacity to think deeply about important problems,” says Elizabeth Marincola, publisher of Science News and president of Society for Science & the Public, which administers the contest. Society for Science & the Public has operated the Science Talent Search since 1942.

The top winner for 2010 will be announced on March 16. Last year’s winner, Eric Larson of Eugene, Ore., received a $100,000 award from the Intel Foundation for describing, for the first time, mathematical objects called fusion categories in certain dimensions.

Competition alumni have won prestigious awards including the National Medal of Science. To date, seven finalists have won a Nobel Prize.

“These students will go on to make world-changing contributions not only in science; they will also bring their scientific knowledge and rigor to other critical sectors of society, to the benefit of all of us,” Marincola says. “SSP and Intel are proud to honor them, and look forward to following their progress in the decades to come.”

A list of the finalists, announced January 27, is available here.

Laura Sanders is the neuroscience writer. She holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Southern California.

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