From the more than 1,800 who applied for the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search, only a select few – 40 truly exceptional high school seniors – were selected as finalists and invited to Washington, D.C., to present original research to judges, showcase their work, and compete for a piece of the more than $1.6 million in prizes awarded through the event.
This year, in place of the previous prize structure honoring a single Grand Prize winner, three first-place Medal of Distinction awards and prizes of $150,000 were presented in three categories: Basic Research, Global Good and Innovation. Additionally, second- and third-place winners received awards of $75,000 and $35,000, respectively.
Other finalists received awards of $7,500.
In total, more than $1.6 million was awarded overall to finalists, semifinalists and their schools through the competition.
Intel announced the following winners of the 2015 Intel STS at a black-tie gala at the National Building Museum on March 10.
Recognizes finalists who demonstrate exceptional scientific potential through depth of research and analysis, which is critical to conducting basic or fundamental research.
Noah Golowich, 17, of Lexington, Massachusetts, won the First Place Medal of Distinction for Basic Research for development of a proof in the area of Ramsey theory, a field of mathematics based on finding types of structure in large and complicated systems. This work may have implications in theoretical computer science, biology and game theory.
Rewards finalists who demonstrate great scientific potential through their passion to make a difference,most notably by seeking solutions to real-world problems.
Andrew Jin, 17, of San Jose, California, was awarded the First Place Medal of Distinction for Global Good for creating a machine learning algorithm to identify adaptive mutations across the human genome. By analyzing massive public genomic datasets, his system discovered more than 100 adaptive mutations related to immune response, metabolism, brain development and schizophrenia in real DNA sequences. Understanding the genetic causes of these diseases is an important first step toward developing gene therapies or vaccines.
Celebrates finalists whose great potential is exemplified by applying the problem-solving aptitude of an engineer through innovative design and creativity.
Michael Hofmann Winer, 18, of North Bethesda, Maryland, was honored with the First Place Medal of Distinction for Innovation for his research on how fundamental quasi-particles of sound, called phonons, interact with electrons. His work could potentially be applied to more complex atomic structures such as superconductors.
Brice Huang, 17, of Princeton Junction, New Jersey, extended previous mathematical research on power ideals – linear functions of variables raised to some power – and was able to calculate the power ideal’s series of dimension for a larger class of ideals than has previously been possible.
Kalia D. Firester, 17, of New York City, studied how a protein produced by nematodes, which are crop-destroying parasites, interacts with a plant’s cells and defenses. Her research may contribute to engineering natural immunity to repel a pest that costs global agriculture $100 billion annually.
Saranesh (Saran) Thanika Prembabu, 17, of San Ramon, California, studied how varying the layers of lead titanate and strontium ruthenate in nanocrystal superlattices can affect their electrical and magnetic properties, which could be harnessed for a variety of electrical and computing applications.
Shashwat Kishore, 18, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, conducted math research which focused on representing abstract algebras using matrices. His work developed a new relationship between these matrices and topology.
Anvita Gupta, 17, of Scottsdale, Arizona, used machine learning to “teach” a computer to identify potential drugs for cancer, tuberculosis and Ebola. Preclinical trials are already underway in China on the tuberculosis drugs that she identified.
Catherine Li, 18, of Orlando, Florida, developed a new fiber-based method of fabricating microscopic particles designed for drug delivery, with potential applications in personalized cancer therapy.