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Tomorrow's Innovators: Intel Science Talent Search

Over the past 70 years, Science Talent Search participants have gone on to win some of the world’s most esteemed academic honors. This year there are seven Indian American students who have been selected as finalists. A Siliconeer report.

Congress Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi

The Intel Science Talent Search, a program of Society for Science & the Public (SSP), is an annual competition that identifies the nation’s most promising scientists of the future and celebrates the best and brightest young minds, as they compete for one of the most esteemed honors bestowed on high school seniors in the United States. As the nation’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition, the Intel Science Talent Search encourages students to tackle challenging scientific questions and develop the skills to solve the problems of tomorrow.

This year, 1,839 high school seniors – the most the competition has seen in over a decade, and a 5 percent increase over the total number of 2011 applicants - entered the Intel Science Talent Search. They hail from 497 high schools in 44 states plus the District of Columbia. Their original research projects cover a wide range of mathematical, engineering, environmental and scientific disciplines. These projects were judged on their originality and creative thinking as well as on a broader measure of the students’ achievement and leadership, both inside and outside the classroom.

On January 11, this field of entrants was narrowed to 300 semifinalists hailing from 180 high schools as well as one American high school overseas in 28 states and the District of Columbia. A total of $600,000 was awarded to the 300 semifinalists and their schools to support their science and math resources.

From the pool of 300 semifinalists, 40 finalists from 16 states were selected on Jan. 25 to gather in Washington, D.C. from March 8-13 and compete for more than $630,000 in awards. The finalists’ innovative ideas present potential solutions to issues that have stumped scientists for years. In 2012, projects include such topics as breast cancer research; innovative water conservation solutions; fiber optic research related to Internet data security; alternative energy solutions; and landmine detection technology.

This year, New York is the state with the highest number of young innovators, as it has 10. Following this, California has 9; Texas and Michigan have three each; Illinois, Massachusetts, and Indiana have two each; and Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington have one finalist each. Seven Indian Americans are among the top contenders this year.

While in Washington, D.C., the finalists will undergo a rigorous judging process, interact with leading scientists, display their research at the National Geographic Society, and meet with national leaders. Winners will be announced at a black-tie gala award ceremony at the National Building Museum on Mar. 13.

The top winner receives a $100,000 award. The second-place finalist receives $75,000 and the third-prize winner gets a $50,000 award. Fourth place receives $40,000 and $30,000 is awarded to fifth place. The sixth and seventh-place finalists each receive a $25,000 award; eighth- through tenth-prize winners each receive $20,000. In addition to the top 10 awards, each of the 30 remaining finalists receive at least $7,500 in awards after attending the event in D.C.

Congress Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi
Seven Indian American Students in 2012 List

California - Cerritos
Saha, Sayoni (Gretchen Whitney High School)
A Doll That Looks Likes Me: A Study of Self-Concept in Children with Down Syndrome

California - San Jose
Sharan, Saurabh (Bellarmine College Preparatory School)
Parameter-Free Graph-Based Nuclear Segmentation in Cellular Images Using Morphological Cues

Florida - Oviedo
Patel, Neel S. (Oviedo High School)
A Four-Year Analysis of Sonifications for Use in Innovative Human-Computer Interfaces

Indiana - West Lafayette
Prabhu, Anirudh (West Lafayette Jr-Sr High School)
Lower Bounds for Odd Perfect Numbers

Michigan - Bloomfield Hills
Jena, Siddhartha Gautama (International Academy)
Elevated Cholesterol Impairs Water and Gas Transport in Red Blood Cells

Michigan - Port Huron
Tumma, Nithin Reddy (Port Huron Northern High School)
Elucidating Pathways in Cancer Pathogenesis: Establishment of Interaction Between TGF-β/Ras Pathways and Identification of gC1qR as an Oncoprotein

New York - Jericho
Mehta, Neil Kamlesh (Jericho Senior High School)
Co-restoration of Type III Nrg1 Back Signaling through Depolarization: Implications for Schizophrenia

A Storied History

Over the past 70 years, Science Talent Search participants have gone on to win some of the world’s most esteemed academic honors. For example, Science Talent Search alumni have gone on to win seven Nobel Prizes, two Fields Medals, three National Medals of Science, 11 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and even an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Society for Science & the Public (SSP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education, owns and has administered the Science Talent Search since its inception in 1942. Since beginning its partnership with SSP in 1998, Intel has increased the total annual awards from $207,000 to $1.25 million.

In 2008, the Intel Foundation committed $120 million over the next 10 years to fund the company’s historical commitment to the Intel Science Talent Search and Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The support also added a robust youth outreach program plus an online science community and science fair alumni and mentoring network.

In January 2009, Intel and SSP launched a nationwide search to find past alumni of the Science Talent Search. Linking past Science Talent Search alumni will provide new resources and an inspiring community of peers for future young scientists.

Intel’s Commitment to Math and Science Education. Intel believes that young people are the key to solving global challenges, and a solid math and science foundation combined with skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and digital literacy are crucial for their success. Over the past decade alone, Intel and the Intel Foundation have invested more than $1 billion and Intel employees have donated close to 3 million hours toward improving education in more than 60 countries.


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EDUCATION: Intel Science Talent Search
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