Talent Search: Student finalists’ flair for science to be rewarded

The Science Talent Search, a prestigious high school science competition, often serves as a springboard for a career in science or engineering. This week, judges announced the 40 finalists in the 61st year of the contest.

Selected from a field of 300 semifinalists, the honorees represent just over 2.5 percent of the high school seniors who entered the competition this year. The finalists topics of research include social sciences, mathematics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, and computer engineering.

Science Service, which publishes Science News, and the Westinghouse Foundation established the Science Talent Search in 1942 to recognize and encourage high school seniors with a knack for science, mathematics, and engineering. In 1998, Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., became the programs corporate sponsor.

Improving science and math education is critical to sustaining Americas strength in the global marketplace, says Craig Barrett, chief executive officer of Intel. These students and other young people who have a solid grounding in science and math will provide tomorrows most innovative ideas and products.

The finalists, 15 girls and 25 boys, range in age from 17 to 19. They come from 35 schools in 16 states and one U.S. territory. Fifteen of the honorees, more than one-third of the total, hail from New York State. Illinois and Maryland tallied five and four finalists, respectively.

According to their applications, 25 of the finalists read at least one foreign language, 29 play a musical instrument, and 29 volunteer in their community. This years eclectic group includes an Elvis impersonator, a flamenco dancer, and an award-winning cheerleader.

In March, the students will travel to Washington, D.C., to compete for college scholarships totaling $530,000, including the top prize of a 4-year, $100,000 scholarship. All finalists will receive a laptop computer and a scholarship of at least $5,000.

The 40 finalists are:

Alabama: Nicole Anne Oertli, Murphy H.S., Mobile.

Arizona: Theresa Joan Berens, Humanities and Sciences Institute, Phoenix.

California: Timothy Allen Dong, Alhambra H.S., Alhambra.

Colorado: Ryan Randall Patterson, Central H.S., Grand Junction.

Connecticut: Jacob Licht, William Hall H.S., West Hartford.

Guam: Jennifer Sayaka Balakrishnan, Harvest Christian Academy, Barrigada.

Illinois: Kevin Yang, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Aurora; Beckett William Sterner, University of Chicago Laboratory School, Chicago; Justin Raymond Pelzer, Evanston Township H.S., Evanston; Wenyi Cai, Naperville Central H.S., Naperville; Emily Elizabeth Riehl, University H.S., Normal.

Indiana: Mark Kaganovich, Bloomington H.S. North, Bloomington.

Louisiana: Siddharth Srivastava, Baton Rouge Senior H.S., Baton Rouge.

Maine: Ashleigh Brooks Theberge, Mount Ararat School, Topsham.

Maryland: Ophelia Shalini Venturelli, Walt Whitman H.S., Bethesda; Jennifer Christy Alyono, Jacob Samuels Burnim, and Jean Li, all of Montgomery Blair H.S., Silver Spring.

Massachusetts: Samir Sur, Roxbury Latin School, West Roxbury.

Minnesota: Brandon Michael Palmen, Mayo H.S., Rochester.

New Jersey: Vivek Venkatachalam, Governor Livingston H.S., Berkeley Heights; Dheera Venkatraman, Hunterdon Central Regional H.S., Flemington.

New York: Jessie Cheng, Byram Hills H.S., Armonk; Michael Jacob Wagner, John F. Kennedy H.S., Bellmore; Yang Li, Ward Melville H.S., East Setauket; Raphael Farzan-Kashani, the John L. Miller–Great Neck North H.S., Great Neck; Angela Soeun Kim, Great Neck South H.S., Great Neck; Mordechai Joseph Bronner, Rambam Mesivta, Lawrence; Allegra Elizabeth Giovine and Jonathan Lii, both of Manhasset H.S., Manhasset; Suhan Li and Raminder Kaur Parihar, both of Bronx H.S. of Science, New York; Ezra Jacob Rapoport, Horace Mann School, New York; Tahir Ahmed, Midwood H.S. at Brooklyn College, New York; Albert W. Leung and Nikita Rozenblyum, both of Stuyvesant H.S., New York; Jessica Randi Stahl, South Side H.S., Rockville Centre.

Texas: Kevin Kuan Gao, John B. Connally H.S., Austin; Kirsten Linnea Frieda, Westlake H.S., Austin.

Wisconsin: Marc Anthony Burrell, Nicolet H.S., Glendale.

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