Sara Volz, 17, of Colorado Springs, Colo., won the top prize of $100,000 in the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search for her research on algal biofuels. Volz used artificial selection to establish populations of algae cells with high oil content, which is essential for an economically feasible source of biofuel.
Jonah Kallenbach, 17, of Ambler, Pa., won the $75,000 second-place prize for designing a computer program that predicts how disordered proteins interact with ordered proteins in the body. The work has the potential to yield a new paradigm for drug design in which disordered regions can be used as promising new drug targets for diseases such as cancer and tuberculosis.
The $50,000 third-place prize in the Intel competition went to Adam Bowman, 17, of Brentwood, Tenn., for his design of an inexpensive low-energy pulsed plasma device. He says his work could open the door for plasma research to be conducted in small-scale operations, perhaps even in high school laboratories.
The annual competition recognizes U.S. high school seniors who are conducting innovative research in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering.