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Chemistry Earns Top Honors At International Science & Engineering Fair

June 14, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 24

Credit: Intel
Credit: Intel

A chemistry project aimed at improving cancer treatment took home the grand prize during the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (societyfor, held on May 9–15 in San Jose, Calif.

Amy Chyao, 16, of Richardson, Texas, received the top prize of $75,000 for her research to develop a photosensitizer for photodynamic therapy in cancer treatment. Chyao also received the inaugural Gordon E. Moore Award, given in honor of the chemist who is cofounder of Intel and best known for Moore’s law, which states that the number of transistors on a chip will double about every two years.

In addition, Chyao won in the chemistry subject category, which earned her an additional $8,000. Alejandro Scaffa, 17, of São Paulo, Brazil, won first place in the biochemistry subject category.

The International Science & Engineering Fair is a global science competition for students in grades 9–12. This year, 1,611 students from 59 countries, regions, and territories participated.

The fair is coordinated by the Society for Science & the Public, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. The students competing in the 2010 competition were winners of local and regional science and engineering fairs who had advanced to the finals.

In addition to the awards from Intel, corporations, universities, government institutions, and scientific societies provided more than 600 special awards and prizes. The American Chemical Society presented 10 awards worth a total of $10,000 for projects in and related to chemistry.

Daniel A. Mokhtari, 18, of Minneapolis, won the $4,000 first-place ACS award for his research, titled “Medicinal Applications of Bis(trimethylsilyl)acetylene in Copper(I)-Catalyzed Azide-Alkyne ‘Click’ Chemistry.”

The second-place award of $3,000 went to Shamik Mascharak, 17, of Santa Cruz, Calif. Mascharak investigated pigmented gallstones and whether Cu(II)-induced oxidation of bilirubin is responsible for their formation.

Third- and fourth-place awards of $2,000 and $1,000, respectively, went to Nicholas T. Wilson, 17, of Dallastown Pa., and Saumil Bandyopadhyay, 14, of Richmond, Va.

Steven Colby, a patent attorney with Peters Verny and one of the ACS judges, says they were looking for projects that were not only important to the field of chemistry but also demonstrated perseverance and imagination. “Those are the types of things we look for in terms of what makes a quality project,” he says.

Other ACS volunteers include Howard Peters, a retired partner with Peters Varny; Bruce Raby, chair of the ACS Santa Clara Valley Section; Jane Frommer and Steve Boyer of IBM; and Partha Bera of NASA Ames Research Center. The ACS Santa Clara Valley Section sponsored a booth at the expo, which took place during the competition.

The next Intel Science & Engineering Fair will take place in Los Angeles on May 8–13, 2011.



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