Teens win top awards, as told on Twitter

The Intel Science Talent Search, 140 characters at a time.

2015 Intel STS

Congratulations to the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search finalists!

B. Brookshire/SSP

WASHINGTON, D.C. — One teen studied mathematics. Another taught a computer to find DNA mutations. A third played with tiny particles of sound. These three high school seniors are the top winners of the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search. They received their $150,000 awards at a gala event March 10 at the National Building Museum.

Run by Society for Science & the Public and sponsored by Intel, the Science Talent Search brings together 40 high school seniors to share their research projects with the public and compete for huge prizes. This year, instead of a single award, Intel offered three $150,000 awards. Each of the three celebrates an aspect of scientific discovery: basic research, benefits to humankind and innovative technologies. 

Eureka! Lab live-tweeted the event (follow @eureka_labs), and we have collected the tweets and articles about the finalists below. Congratulations to all 40 finalists for their hard work!


The Intel Science Talent Search Awards Gala!

The Intel Science Talent Search Awards Gala Took place Tuesday night! Run by the Society for Science & the Public, the Intel Science Talent Search brings 40 of the brightest high school students in the country to Washington, D.C. to share their research projects with the public.

    The kids who make it to the top 40 are amazing. They start non-profits, write plays, lead the track team, and win debate championships. And in their spare time, they study cancer, water quality, heart rhythms, mortgages and much more. The Intel Science Talent Search Gala is where one of these brilliant students will be named the winner, taking home a prize of $100,000. 
    Tonight is the #IntelSTS Gala! They are going to announce the winner of the Science Talent Search and @eureka_labs will be live tweeting!
    The national building museum is beautiful today for the #intelsts gala!  http://ow.ly/i/4RPwc 
    Photo on 2014-03-11 at 19:01.jpg
    Photo on 2014-03-11 at 19:01.jpg
    Great crowd surveying the poster at the #intelsts! Worlds swankiest poster session?  http://ow.ly/i/4ROP4 
    From here the tweets came fast and furious. Please pardon any misspellings!
    Photo on 2014-03-11 at 19:11.jpg
    Photo on 2014-03-11 at 19:11.jpg
    The program began with a statement from Intel. The company had an extra surprise for all the finalists: the latest computer!
    Wow! The finalists each get a notebook/tablet hybrid, the latest technology from intel.#intelsts
    Now hearing from dr. Robert Horvitz, Nobel prize winner and chairman of the board of society of science and the public. #intelsts
    This is year 73 of the #intelsts! 73 years of amazing high school seniors.
    This years sts finalists range from biomedicine to math to astronomy to agriculture! #intelsts
    When dr. Horvitz won Nobel prize, the Chicago sun times published a photo of his high school sci project! His mom kept it 41 years #intelsts
    Keep those science projects, parents! You never know when you might want to show them off as your child wins the Nobel Prize!
    Horvitz – having a strong background in STEM will serve you and the public…to serve, educate, and inspire! #intelsts
    Horvitz encourages everyone to check out science news for students! #intelsts
    We were very excited to hear Horvitz talk about Science News and Science News for Students, where we make the latest science findings available to anyone ages 12 and up.
    Horvitz – engage in science, engage in the world, and gave fun doing that. #intelsts
    And now Rajiv Shaw from USAID will give the keynote. #intelsts
    After meeting #intelsts finalists, shah’s kid asked if becoming a scientist means you stop being a kid. He said no, don’t lose enthusiasm.
    Shah noted that in some ways, doing science is very adult, but that child-like enthusiasm and curiosity drives everyone who pursues science.
    Shah says these #intelsts finalists understand the intersection between climate and poverty.
    He noted how many of the projects this year tackled problems like human health, climate change and poverty. He said how glad he was to see so many students who cared so deeply about the world around them.
    Shah just name checked Thabit Pulak, who has built a DIY filter to get arsenic out of the water.  http://bit.ly/1lTn9Rk  #intelsts
    Shah – we are looking to you to serve as role models to kids who are looking to transform humanity. #intelsts
    Shah – your achievements are as important than those Olympians we just celebrated. In fact, they are more important. #intelsts
    Shah honors the work of #intelsts finalists, driven in science and to serve others.
    Shah – a sense of service and living out your passion, these will be the most important to you. #intelsts
    Introducing the finalists! Alec Vadim Arshavsky, Catherine carmenzind #intelsts
    Alec worked at Duke University to create a computer program that can trace the cornea of the eye. It will be used to help match corneas from donors to the patients who need them. He also loves the theater.
    Katherine Camenzind used a microscope and a laser from an undergraduate laboratory to make optical tweezers, which use lasers to capture microscopic particles. Normally, such tweezers would cost $20,000! She likes to go backpacking in the Sierras.
    Introducing finalist #intelsts Eric Chen, who used a computer simulation to screen for new drugs to fight the flu!  http://bit.ly/1fSnYHE 
    Introducing Steven Chen, John Anthony Clarke, Aron coroar who had three projects to bring! #intelsts
    Steven Chen studied supercooled fluids, which remain liquid even though they are cooled past their freezing points. He’s a junior chess champion.
    John Anthony Clarke was able to show that NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array should be able to see the complete X-ray spectrum produced by the auroras of Jupiter. To get past the light pollution of his home area, he relies on his mountain bike.
    Aron Coraor studied how two different types of lunar rocks may have formed. It was one of three projects that he could have brought to the Science Talent Search!
    Introducing finalists Soham Daga who studies mortgages, Shaun Datta, Neil Davay! #intelsts
    Motivated by the hardships of his friends during the recent mortgage crisis, Soham developed improved economic models to predict hwho might be at risk for delinquency. He also likes digital photography.
    Saun Datta performed studies to understand “strong nuclear force” which may help us better understand atomic particles. He sings at the lunchtime open mics at his school. 
    Neil Davay created a device that can label and isolate cancer cells. He hopes to develop it into a rapid blood test for cancers. He has also submitted several patents. 
    Introducing Benjamin Freed, who was inspired by #cosmos, anubhav Guha, Yushi Homma #intelsts
    Benjamin Freed studied Ras, an enzyme connected with a variety of cancers. He’s hoping to get to the Junior Pan American Triathalon championship.
    Anubhav Guha studied fluorescence microscopy, trying to stop dyes that glow from bleaching over time. The scientist is also a classical pianist who has performed twice at Carnegie Hall.
    Yushi Homma brought together probability and theoretical physics, finding asymptotic behavior for two points on a coordinate axis holds, a finding that could influence computational physics. Yushi has another passion: tournament golf.
    Introducing Preeti Kakani, geography bee winner, Joyce Blossom Kang, who encourages women in the sciences #intelsts
    Preeti Kakani studied how brain activity might change signal pathways in the brain. In her spare time, Preeti is on a mission to read the World Library’s 100 best books of all time.
    Joyce Blossom Kang created a fast-charging low-cost supercapacitator that might, one day, help power electric vehicles. She also plays tennis. 
    Introducing Angela Kong, William Kuszmal, who makes origami roses #intelsts
    Angela Kong studied how normal cells might become cancerous in breast cancer. In her free time, Angela has worked to raise funds for an orphanage in Nepal. 
    William Kuszmaul developed a new approach to modular enumeration, something that could be used in computer science and computational biology. He created some lovely origami roses that he showed off on the Science Talent Search video.
    Introducing STS finalist Kevin Lee, who uses math to model the shape of our beating hearts.  http://bit.ly/1fqhn6b  #intelsts
    Introducing Charles Liu, Esha Maiti, Rahul Mehta, Joshua Meier, who makes iPhone apps has a biotech company #intelsts
    Charles Liu analyzed a huge database to find a relationship between two diseases, systemic sclerosis and lupus. He is also the senior editor of his high school magazine.
    Esha Maiti developed a mathematical model to predict where breast cancer is likely to spread, and which may be applied to other cancers as well. Esha loves math, but she also loves to watch football!
    Rahul Mehta studied the “maximum flow problem,” and his solutions could be applied to improve things like plane take off and landing schedules. Rahul has already gotten started on his career, working at an energy startup as a software developer.
    Joshua Meier studied why adult stem cells grow “old” so quickly, and then used what he found to make cancer cells old fore their time. He founded a non-profit that helps abused youth gain their voices, by teaching them debate.
    Introducing Anne Merrill, who harnessed the power of biochar and earthworms to improve tomato growth.  http://bit.ly/1kKn8i9  #intelsts
    Introducing Lisa michaels, Sreyas Misra, Viola Mocz, who is learning Hungarian and Japanese #intelsts
    Lisa Michaels worked in flies to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Don’t get on her bad side, she likes mixed martial arts. 
    Sreyas Mirsa redesigned the PET scanner, taking it from the size of a car to the size of a tablet! He says that medicine is his passion and he hopes to become a physician. 
    Vioa Mocz used wave-particle nature to learn more about subatomic matter. She also plays…the viola.
    Introducing Natalie Ng, Emily Pang, who loves Girl Scout cookies, Jiho Park, Ivan Paskow #intelsts
    Natalie Ng used statistics to predict how breast cancers might develop. She has also founded a local organization to raise money for Parkinson’s research.
    Emily Pang manipulated two proteins to increase or decrease tumor progression. She also runs the Science Alliance, which aims to help children develop science skills.
    Jiho Park studied the structure of an enzyme associated with breast cancer. She’s already published a scientific paper in the Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling
    Inspired by his mother’s battle with cancer, Ivan Paskow designed a tool to predict the effectiveness of cancer drugs. Ivan also brought digital note taking to his high school.
    Introducing Brianna Periera, who is a scientist and artist. #intelsts
    Brianna Periera used a drug designed for HIV to attack lung cancer cells. She has already moved forward in her future career, volunteering at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.
    Introducing Thabit Pulak, who has built a DIY filter to get arsenic out of the water.  http://bit.ly/1lTn9Rk  #intelsts
    Introducing Zarin Rahman, who studies the relationship between cell phone use and sleep.  http://bit.ly/N4pZnk  #intelsts
    Introducing Ajay Saini, third degree black belt, Sara Sakowitz, who is in a comedic web series and captains a girls robotics team #intelsts
    Ajay Saini created a model of social networks that determines who in a social network should be targeted to make sure an idea spreads. He holds a third Dan black belt in Taekwondo. 
    Sara Sakowitz studied a protein that she hopes can be targeted to prevent breast cancer. She also recently published an op-ed on her all-girls robotics team in the Washington Post. 
    Introducing David Seong, Vishnu Shankar, Jessica Shi, a lover of math, Kaitlin Shin, #intelsts
    David Seong studies tiny bits of microRNA, and how they might help combat Huntington’s disease. He did his research while a summer intern at Massachusetts General Hospital.
    Vishnu Shankar studies how receptors and molecules that target them might fit together. But he doesn’t keep it too serious, and likes to perform stand-up comedy. 
    Jessica Shi studied graphs, and how many solutions are possible for intersections formed by lines. She is also technical director of her high school’s online newspaper. 
    And last but never least, introducing Anand Srinivasan, and Parth Thakker, #intelsts
    Anand Srinivarsan used computer science to help disease screening. He has also helped to make mobile molecular biology labs for 5th grade classrooms.
    Parth Thakker studied quantum dots, and is also a former Civil Air Patrol staff sergeant. 
    Photo on 2014-03-11 at 20:43.jpg
    Photo on 2014-03-11 at 20:43.jpg
    Now the Seaborg award. Named after a Nobel prize winner who discovered 10 elements. #intelsts
    Dr. Seaborg was known as someone who was, above all, inspiring. Each year, the Intel Science Talent Search finalists choose one among them who they feel is the most inspiring to others.
    The #intelsts pick the Seaborg winner, someone they feel inspires others. Congratulations William Kuszmaul!!!
    William Kuszmaul just did an Obama imitation. 🙂 “uh, hello” #intelsts
    William Kuszmaul says #intelsts wasn’t about competition, everyone wanted everyone else to succeed.
    And now the to 10 2014 #intelsts finalists! 10! Shaun Datta! 9! John Anthony Clarke! 8! Anand Sirinivasan!
    7th place, Zarin Rahman, who studies the relationship between cell phone use and sleep.  http://bit.ly/N4pZnk !! #intelsts
    The winners were coming too fast to tweet! 
    6! Aron Coraor
    5! Natalie Ng 


    4th place… Josh Maier! 3rd place… William Kuszmaul! #intelsts
    Second place, STS finalist Kevin Lee who uses math to model the shape of our beating hearts.  http://bit.ly/1fqhn6b  #intelsts
    The winner of the 2014 #intelsts Eric Chen, who used a computer simulation to screen for new drugs to fight the flu!  http://bit.ly/1fSnYHE 
    Congratulations to Eric and all the fabulous finalists! Brilliant students all of them! #intelsts

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Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

abstraction     An idea or concept, as opposed to a concrete example.

algorithm  A group of rules or procedures for solving a problem in a series of steps. Algorithms are used in mathematics and in computer programs for figuring out solutions.

arsenic  A highly poisonous metallic element. It occurs in three chemically different forms, which also vary by color (yellow, black and gray). The brittle, crystalline (gray) form is the most common. Some manufacturers tap its toxicity by adding it to insecticides.

astronomy    The area of science that deals with celestial objects, space and the physical universe as awhole. People who work in this field are called astronomers.

bacterium (plural bacteria)  A single-celled organism. These dwell nearly everywhere on Earth, from the bottom of the sea to inside animals.

bioengineer      Someone who applies engineering to solve problems in biology or in systems that will use living organisms.

bioengineering  The application of technology for the beneficial manipulation of living things. Researchers in this field use the principles of biology and the techniques of engineering to design organisms or products that can mimic, replace or augment the chemical or physical processes present in existing organisms. This field includes researchers who genetically modify organisms, including microbes. It also includes researchers who design medical devices such as artificial hearts and artificial limbs.

biomechanics  The study of how living things move, especially of the forces exerted by muscles and gravity on the skeletal structure.

depression  A mental illness characterized by persistent sadness and apathy. Although these feelings can be triggered by events, such as the death of a loved one or the move to a new city, that isn’t typically considered an “illness” — unless the symptoms are prolonged and harm an individual’s ability to perform normal daily tasks (such as working, sleeping or interacting with others). People suffering from depression often feel they lack the energy needed to get anything done. They may have difficulty concentrating on things or showing an interest in normal events. Many times, these feelings seem to be triggered by nothing; they can appear out of nowhere.

fossil fuels  Any fuel — such as coal, petroleum (crude oil) or natural gas —  that has developed in the Earth over millions of years from the decayed remains of bacteria, plant or animals.

gene   (adj. genetic) A segment of DNA that codes, or holds instructions, for producing a protein. Offspring inherit genes from their parents. Genes influence how an organism looks and behaves.

HIV  (short for Human Immunodeficiency Virus) A potentially deadly virus that attacks cells in the body’s immune system and causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS.

hydrogen  The lightest element in the universe. As a gas, it is colorless, odorless and highly flammable. It’s an integral part of many fuels, fats and chemicals that make up living tissues.

insecticide  A poison applied to kill insects.

Irruption  (in birds) A sudden influx of birds to the south of their normal wintering range, sometimes due to lack of food or overpopulation in normal wintering areas.

leukemia  A type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes high numbers of immature or abnormal white blood cells. This can lead to anemia, a shortage of red blood cells.

methylation  (in chemistry) The attachment to some molecule of a methyl group — a carbon atom holding onto three hydrogen atoms. Removal of this methyl group is known as demethylation.

methyl group  (in chemistry) Three hydrogen atoms bonded, chemically, to a carbon atom. This amazingly common quartet of atoms is then attached — through the carbon — to some other molecule. (in genetics) When attached to a gene, the methyl group can act like a new switch to turn the gene’s activity on or off, up or down.

migration  Movement from one region or habitat to another, especially regularly and according to the seasons.

mutation  Some change that occurs to a gene in an organism’s DNA. Some mutations occur naturally. Others can be triggered by outside factors, such as pollution, radiation, medicines or something in the diet. A gene with this change is referred to as a mutant.

nano  A prefix indicating a billionth. In the metric system of measurements, it’s often used as an abbreviation to refer to objects that are a billionth of a meter long or in diameter.

nematode     A type of roundworm, usually found in soil, that can also live within other creatures as a parasite. It is very small, with no eyes, ears or nose.

neuroscience  Science that deals with the structure or function of the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Researchers in this field are known as neuroscientists.

parasite  An organism that gets benefits from another species, called a host, but doesn’t provide it any benefits. Classic examples of parasites include ticks, fleas and tapeworms.

photosynthesis  (verb: photosynthesize) The process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to produce foods from carbon dioxide and water.

quantum   A term that refers to the smallest amount of anything, especially of energy or subatomic mass.

schizophrenia   A serious brain disorder that can lead to hallucinations, delusions and other uncontrolled behaviors.

smartphone  A cell (or mobile) phone that can perform a host of functions, including search for information on the Internet.

solar  Having to do with the sun, including the light and energy it gives off.

solar cell  A device that converts solar energy to electricity.

stratosphere     The second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, just above the troposphere, or ground layer. The stratosphere stretches from 10 kilometers to 50 kilometers (about 6.2 to 31 miles) above sea level.

white dwarf  A small, very dense star that is typically the size of a planet. It is what is left when a star with a mass about the same as our sun’s has exhausted its nuclear fuel of hydrogen, and collapsed.


Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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