Issue Date: June 29, 2009
ACS Volunteers At Intel Science Fair
Las Vegas, well-known for gambling and quickie weddings, hosted a different demographic during the week of May 11–16. That’s when the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2009 came to town. More than 1,500 high school students from 60 countries, plus their teachers, mentors, observers, and judges, took over the Reno-Sparks Convention Center for this year’s competition.
Each year, students worldwide compete in local science fairs; the winners of these events go on to participate in Intel ISEF-affiliated regional and state fairs from which the best win the opportunity to attend the Intel ISEF and compete for nearly $4 million in prizes and scholarships. The Society for Science & the Public and Intel are the primary sponsors; ACS is among dozens of other corporate, academic, and government sponsors that support discipline-specific awards.
All three Intel Young Scientist Awards ($50,000 scholarships each) went to young women. They are Tara Anjali Adiseshan, 14, Ramana Academy in Charlottesville, Va., for her project, “Identifying & Classifying Evolutionary Interactions between Sweat Bees & Nematodes”; Olivia Catherine Schwob, 16, Boston Latin School, for “How Worms Learn, Part III: Mammalian Gene Expression & Associative Conditioning in Caenorhabditis elegans”; and Li Sallou Boynton, 17, Bellaire High School, in Texas, for her project, “Bioluminescent Bacteria To Detect Environmental Contaminants.”
Other big prizes awarded in chemistry include a Seaborg Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar Award, won by Preya Shah, 17, of Ward Melville High School, in East Setauket, N.Y., for her research on development of tumor-targeting drugs. She receives an all-expense-paid trip to the seminar and entry to the Nobel Prize ceremonies. Shah also snagged the Intel ISEF Best of Category Award, which includes $5,000 and a new laptop.
Other Best of Category honorees include the biochemistry winner, Anartya Mandal of Brighton, Mass., whose project involved research on inhibiting cancer cells with curcumin, a natural product in turmeric. In materials and bioengineering, Scott Skirlo of Fairfax, Va., won for his research on the shape-memory properties of nickel titanium, or nitinol, under extreme hot and cold conditions. In environmental management, Eliza McNitt of Greenwich, Conn., won for her work investigating the role of the pesticide imidacloprid in the bee epidemic known as colony-collapse disorder. Ashoka Rajendra of Sterling, Va., won in medicine and health for his research into therapeutic treatments for prostate cancer.
ACS, as it has for several years, judged projects and gave awards totaling $10,000. Ana de Bettencourt-Dias, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Nevada, Reno, and chair of the ACS Sierra Nevada Section, organized volunteer chemistry judges Kent Ervin, Joseph Cline, Renante Yson, Robert Sheridan, Sarah Cummings, Sean Casey, and Jason Shearer—all from UN Reno. Also judging were volunteers Axel Drefahl of Owens Technology, Thomas Howell of the ACS Sierra Nevada Section, and Howard Peters of the ACS Santa Clara Valley Section.
They selected Prem P. Thottumkara, 16, of Macomb High School, in Illinois, for the $4,000 first-place ACS Award for his project, “Design & Development of Ozone Equivalents for the Oxidative Cleavage of Alkenes.” Ksenia G. Fedina, 16, of Moscow Chemical Lyceum, in Russia, came in second in ACS judging and received $2,000 for “Synthesis of Oligosaccharide Precursors of Mycobacterial Arabinofuranosides.” Shah got the third-place award for “Combating Cancer: Design & Synthesis of Dual-Warhead Tumor-Targeting Drug Conjugates.” Finally, Joy Elisabeth Lee, 17, of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology, in Alexandria, Va., received the fourth-place award of $1,000 for her project, “Novel Biosensor Utilizing a Quinone Monolayer in Conjunction with Cyclic Voltammetry.”
The next Intel ISEF will be held at the convention center in San Jose, Calif., on May 9–14, 2010. For more information on the science fair and volunteering, visit isef2010sanjose.org.
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