Tomorrow’s Stars: Intel Science Talent Search honors high achievers

As is fitting for a member of the MySpace generation, Shivani Sud has the individual in mind. She developed a model for assessing a person’s genetic profile, first to determine individual risk for recurrence of colon cancer and then to tailor a treatment regime. Sud’s research won her the top prize Tuesday in the Intel Science Talent Search: a $100,000 scholarship from the Intel Foundation. The 17-year-old from Durham, N.C., received her award at a black-tie gala in Washington, D.C., honoring the Talent Search finalists.

TO EACH HER OWN. For research that brings a tailored approach to colon cancer treatment, Shivani Sud won the talent search’s top prize. S. Norcross

Second place and a $75,000 scholarship went to Graham Van Schaik, 17, of Columbia, S.C. Inspired by working in his grandmother’s garden, Van Schaik investigated the persistence of pyrethroids, a class of pesticides, on tomatoes. He also designed two experiments tracking effects of the pesticides on breast cancer cells and nerve cells.

Brian McCarthy, 18, of Hillsboro, Ore., created several thin polymer films that respond to light, materials that could become part of a cheaper alternative to silicon-based solar cells. His chemistry project won him third place and a $50,000 scholarship.

This year’s 40 finalists, hailing from 19 states and 35 high schools, were winnowed from more than 1,600 entrants.

Society for Science & the Public (formerly Science Service), which publishes Science News, has administered the competition since its inception in 1942.

“The Intel Science Talent Search 2008 finalists personify what drives American ingenuity,” says Elizabeth Marincola, president of Society for Science & the Public. “Society for Science & the Public is proud to join with Intel in congratulating Shivani Sud and all of this year’s finalists. We are inspired by their dedication to science, and are encouraged by what the quality and depth of their work foretells for our continued innovation and economic prosperity.”

Fourth place went to Katherine Banks, 17, of Brooklyn, N.Y., for a mathematical proof for the number of lattice points inside polygons with nine vertices. Eric Delgado, 18, of Bayonne, N.J., won fifth place for developing a strategy to disable a pump that bacteria use to flush antibiotics out of their cells. Sixth place went to David Rosengarten, 18, of Great Neck, N.Y., for his model of galactic rotation in the fifth dimension. Each of these students won a $25,000 scholarship.

Seventh through 10th place winners each won a $20,000 scholarship. They are:

Xiaomeng (Jessica) Zeng, 18, of Iowa City, Iowa, who found a positive relation between government and private funding of public libraries.

Philip Mocz, 18, of Mililani, Hawaii, who created a statistical algorithm for discovering hidden patterns of nearby stars.

Alexis Mychajliw, 16, of Port Washington, N.Y., who found that female dragonflies and damselflies prefer meadows, while males tend to hang out in wetlands, suggesting that both habitats are crucial.

Evan Mirts, 18, of Jefferson City, Mo., who used a scanning ion-conductance microscope to investigate light-induced changes in spinach chloroplasts. Traditional methods for studying chloroplasts often destroy the sample.

Each of the remaining 30 finalists won a $5,000 scholarship and a laptop computer.

“These 40 students show what American youth can do when they are encouraged to study math and science,” says Intel Chairman Craig Barrett. “In this presidential year, their stories should send a strong message that this critical foundation for innovation must be supported.”

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