Issue Date: June 30, 2008
Intel, ACS Award Prizes at Science Fair
Excellence in chemistry was on display at the recent Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF), which was held last month in Atlanta. ISEF, a joint project of the Society for Science & the Public (SSP) and the Intel Foundation, is the most prestigious high school science fair in the world.
Two top award winners presented chemistry-related projects. In addition, ACS, one of the science fair's many sponsors, presented awards totaling $10,000 to students who submitted exceptional chemistry projects. The ACS Georgia Section played an important role by providing volunteer judges for the event.
ACS members who volunteered as judges in the chemistry competition are David Gottfried (judging team leader), Galit Levitin, Joan Mutanyatta-Comar, and Toby Block of Georgia Tech University; Howard Peters, patent attorney, Peters Verny LLP (retired); Peter A. Roessle, Georgia Perimeter College; Judy Sophianopoulos, Emory University and the Environmental Protection Agency (retired); Dan Philen, Emory University; Daniel von Deutsch, Morehouse School of Medicine; Tom Lantz; Jon Spencer, Theragenics; and Olaronke Olubajo, Kemira Chemicals.
This year, all three top award winners are female. Two of these young scientists presented chemistry projects; the other prizewinner presented a project in advanced mathematics. Each receives a $50,000 scholarship as a grand prize.
Natalie Saranga Omattage, a student at Mississippi School for Mathematics & Science, Columbus, conducted research aimed at finding an alternative method of detecting melamine and cyanuric acid in food. These compounds are linked to the recent poisonings of pets caused by adulterated pet food. Current methods—chromatography and mass spectrometry—require expensive reagents and equipment. Omattage, 17, developed an effective quartz crystal microbalance-based biosensor that detects the compounds at low concentrations in a matter of minutes. Further, the biosensor is portable, less expensive than current screening methods, and its operation does not require highly trained personnel. Omattage's biosensor may also be used to detect other harmful chemicals.
Yi-Han Su, also 17, a student at Taipei First Girls High School, in Taiwan, improved the activity of a mixed-metal catalyst for methanol reforming so that the reaction generates hydrogen more efficiently. Using homogeneous precipitation with urea, she prepared a Cu-Zn-Al catalyst that yielded higher methanol conversion and hydrogen production rates than those prepared by the usual method of coprecipitation.
ACS Special Awards went to the following high school students: Philip Vidal Streich, 17, a homeschooler from Platteville, Wis., received the first-place award of $4,000 for his project, "Fundamental Insight into Carbon Nanotube/Solvent Interactions Leads to the Discovery of a Novel Method for Maximizing Solubilities in General." The second-place award of $3,000 went to Alexander James White, 17, of King's School Chester, in England, for "Synthesis and Catalytic Behaviour of Layered Double Hydroxides." The third-place award of $2,000 went to Russell B. Conard, 18, William Henry Harrison High School, West Lafayette, Ind., for his project, "Isolation of the Role of Earthworms in the Chemical Alteration Trajectory of Lignin in Old and Young Forest Systems." The fourth-place award of $1,000 went to Christopher Allen Zimmerman, 18, Muhlenberg High School, Laureldale, Pa., for his project, "A Novel Thermodynamic Model for the Synthesis of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes."
ACS Honorable Mention awardees received a subscription to ChemMatters and a T-shirt. Prizes went to Oldrich Hudecek, 20, Masaryk's Secondary School of Chemistry, Prague; Amanda Eryn Marinoff, 17, Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School, Plainview, N.Y.; Camden Y. Miller, 16, Allen High School, Allen, Texas; Pooja Rajalakshmi Vasudevan, 17, Wheatley School, Old Westbury, N.Y.; Radha Ramjeawan, 18, Uniondale High School, Uniondale, N.Y.; Janelle Schlossberger, 18, Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School; Philipp Zagar, 18, Higher Technical Institute, Wels, Austria; and Lyndon Nuoxi Zhang, 17, Mission San Jose High School, Fremont, Calif.
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