From more than 1,700 applicants in Intel Science Talent Search 2013, 40 high school seniors were selected as finalists and invited to Washington, D.C., to present original research to esteemed judges and showcase their work. On March 12, Intel announced the top ten winners of the 2013 Intel STS at a black-tie gala at the National Building Museum.
Sara Volz, 17, of Colorado Springs, Colo., won the top award of $100,000 from the Intel Foundation for her research of algae biofuels. Algae produces oil that can be converted into a sustainable, renewable fuel; however, the fuel can be costly. Sara used artificial selection to establish populations of algae cells with high oil content, which are essential for an economically feasible biofuel. Sara, who built a home lab under her loft bed, sleeps on the same light cycle as her algae.
Second-place honors and $75,000 went to Jonah Kallenbach, 17, of Ambler, Pa., whose bioinformatics study breaks new ground in predicting protein binding for drug therapy. Jonah solved an open problem first posed several years ago, and his work suggests a new path to drug design by targeting a protein’s disordered regions. His research may open doors to treatment for diseases, such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer and tuberculosis.
Third-place honors and $50,000 went to Adam Bowman, 17, of Brentwood, Tenn., who successfully designed and built a compact and inexpensive, low-energy, pulsed plasma device. Typical plasma sources are large, complicated and expensive. Using his inexpensive technology, Adam believes plasma research can now be conducted in small-scale operations and even high school labs.
Hannah Larson of Eugene, Ore., received a $40,000 award for her research of an abstract mathematical structure that’s important in many areas of theoretical physics and computer science.
Peter Kraft of Munster, Ind., received a $30,000 award for his synthesis of 10 new coordination polymers, which are massive molecules with complex network structures that have applications in gas purification and the storage of hydrogen in fuel cells.
Kensen Shi of College Station, Texas, received a $25,000 award for his development of a computer algorithm that makes it easier for a robot to avoid colliding with obstacles in its path.
Samuel Zbarsky of Rockville, Md., received a $25,000 award for his math research that could improve the efficiency of 3-D computer networks.
Brittany Wenger of Sarasota, Fla., received a $20,000 award for her development of an artificial neural network to help diagnose breast cancer using data from fine needle biopsy samples.
Akshay Padmanabha of Collierville, Tenn., received a $20,000 award for his development of an algorithm that detects oncoming epileptic seizures.