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Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, California
Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells - Biochemistry
MENTOR: Dr. Zhen Cheng, Stanford University
“I was surprised by the survival rate of patients who had undergone current cancer therapy.”
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are responsible for initiating and driving tumor growth yet are often resistant to current cancer therapies. In her research, Angela Zhang aimed to design a CSC-targeted, gold and iron oxide-based nanoparticle with a potential to eradicate these cells through a controlled delivery of the drug salinomycin to the site of the tumor. The multifunctional nanoparticle combines therapy and imaging into a single platform, with the gold and iron-oxide components allowing for both MRI and Photoacoustic imaging. This nanosystem could potentially help overcome cancer resistance, minimize undesirable side effects, and allow for real-time monitoring of treatment efficacy.
Angela, a senior, is interested in nanomedicine and molecular imaging because they allow her “to transform my interests in physics, chemistry, and biology into solutions for current health problems.” She won the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2011 Grand Award and the ISEF 2010 Grand Award (both for medicine and health science), and a trip to attend the Taiwan International Science Fair awarded by the National Taiwan Science Education Center. Angela planned and executed a fundraiser that raised over $5,000 a year for the Monta Vista Interact International Night and has participated in the Jade Ribbon Youth Council to raise awareness about Hepatitis B. She plays golf and the piano and would like to major in chemical or biomedical engineering or physics. She is a 2010 Siemens Competition Regional Finalist who put in 1,000 hours on her current project. Angela hopes to become a research professor.
Stuyvesant High School, New York, New York
Packing and Covering with Centrally Symmetric Disks - Mathematics
MENTOR: Professor Dan P. Ismailescu, Hofstra University
“Mathematics is ubiquitous: car-builders use the heat flow equation to calculate how engine parts will respond to heat, while bridge-builders calculate the curve that will ideally spread the downward force of a heavy truck.”
For a millennia, people have been interested in how we can efficiently pack more objects into an area. Brian Kim examined packing and covering geometric shapes, a topic that he says “could be understood and appreciated with a basic geometry background, but required power tools, particularly vectors, with which to make new ground.” He was attracted to the idea of arranging shapes in space because this problem has been studied extensively by mathematicians. “The topic is simple yet at the same time extremely complex.”
Brian first recognized his passion for math after joining his school's math team. “There are no ‘textbook problems’ or solutions in math team, as ingenuity and cleverness are constant necessities.” In his spare time, the high school senior enjoys running, golf, handball and playing the guitar, piano and trombone. He would like to major in applied mathematics or computer science and dreams of becoming a professor of mathematics at MIT.
Northview High School, Duluth, Georgia
On the Rank Number of Grid Graphs - Mathematics
MENTOR: Jesse Geneson, MIT Mathematics Department
“Mathematics research appeals to me because the results are pure and incontestable gems of human reasoning.”
Sitan (Stan) Chen’s mathematics project has potential applications in optimizing circuit design, finding errors in large data structures more efficiently, and manufacturing complex products in industrial systems more quickly. Stan’s research could potentially result in a new method of studying graphs, an important area of mathematics.
Stan is inspired by mathematics because of “the power of a single new idea to change the way we look at the world around us.” A returning National Finalist from the 2010 Siemens Competition, Stan is interested in analyzing more than just math problems: his favorite class is AP Literature, where he examines the works of Ellison and Dostoyevsky. An accomplished musician, he has been invited to Carnegie Hall six times to perform on the piano and violin. Now in his senior year, Stan is on the fencing team and organizes benefit concerts to raise funds for disaster relief. He hopes to study music or mathematics in college, with dreams of one day becoming a university professor.
Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, Natchitoches, Louisiana
Asymmetric Conjugate Addition of Ortho-Quinone Methides as a Pathway to Communesin Analogs - Chemistry
MENTOR: Dr. Scott E. Schaus, Boston University
“Chemistry has seemingly limitless applications in a wide variety of fields. By understanding the principles of chemistry, one can exploit them to influence his or her world.”
Joshua Kubiak’s organic chemistry research can be used to make a molecular scaffold which can then be built upon to create chemical compounds with potential medicinal applications. In his project, he aimed to manipulate certain reaction schemes in order to obtain the desired chemical structure, one that may use less expensive materials than earlier research suggests. Joshua enjoys working in organic synthesis because “it gives me the opportunity to create something new and unique that can potentially benefit others.”
Joshua, a senior, plans to major in chemical or biomedical engineering. President of his school’s math club, he is also a National Merit semifinalist and winner of an Excellence in Chemistry Award. Active in his school’s science club and a participant in the US Chemistry Olympiad, Joshua tutors in his spare time. He hopes to pursue a career in drug design and development: “I really enjoy the work that I did with my project and would like to go into a career path that involves researching the creation of new medicines.” He is the first student from his school to be named a Regional Finalist in the Siemens Competition.
West HighSchool, Iowa City, Iowa
A novel lectin-like ubiquitin ligase degrades disease-causing A1AT-Z - Biology
MENTOR: Dr. Kevin Glenn
“There is a virtuous cycle about biology: the more I know about it, the more questions I have. And the more questions I have, the more knowledge I seek.”
The deficiency of the A1AT protein is the most common cause of childhood liver failure and the number one cause of liver transplants in children in the United States. Mutant A1AT-Z accumulates in the liver of A1AT-deficient patients, causing liver scarring, inflammation and even cancer. In his project, John Wen explored the degradation of A1AT-Z in order to help prevent the aggregation so often toxic to liver cells. His work led him to the discovery of two protein “taggers,” FBG1 and FBG2, which participate in the degradation of both non-aggregated and aggregated forms of A1AT-Z. John hopes that his research will lead to the development of drugs that enhance the interaction of FBG1 and FBG2 with A1AT-Z to further degrade the toxic protein, resulting in therapies to treat the number one genetic cause of liver disease in children.
John is a senior and the first student from his school to be named a Regional Finalist in the Siemens Competition. A National AP Scholar with Distinction, he is also an accomplished pianist who took part in the prestigious Aspen Music Festival and has performed on NPR’s “From the Top.” After recent floods devastated his home state, he performed in benefit concerts to help Iowa's music program recover. John is involved in his school’s biology and physics clubs, and has helped his Junior Engineering Technical Society win first place in the state and third in the nation. He plans to major in molecular biology/biochemistry and piano performance. He dreams of conducting molecular biological research “with an infinite grant,” and playing “sold-out Carnegie Hall performances.”
Staples High School, Westport, Connecticut
Optogenetic Interrogation of Prefrontal Cortex Dopamine D1 Receptor-Containing Neurons as a Technique to Restore Timing: A Novel Approach to Treat Prefrontal Disorders - Biology
MENTOR: Dr. Benjamin Land and Dr. Ralph DiLeone, Yale University
“I was excited by the idea that principles of light and genetic therapies could be used in combination to deliver a highly specific treatment to just the right spot in the brain where it was needed.”
John Solder began his research hoping to help the millions who suffer from injuries or disorders of the prefrontal regions of the brain, which include Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. He was inspired by one experience in particular: “After presenting a previous research project in a public forum, a woman told me I had given her new hope for her child who had suffered a devastating brain injury for whom treatment options were limited.” Currently, medications can target specific molecular mechanisms, but cannot be administered to a specific brain region. In contrast, deep brain stimulation can be administered to a specific brain region, but cannot target a specific molecular mechanism. John used a cutting edge technology called optogenetics, in which light of specific wavelengths is administered to a specific part of the brain to turn on or off genetically-modified cells. His project has the potential to provide new ways to treat brain disorders.
This high schools senior was a first place team winner at the FIRST Robotics Tech Challenge World Championship, a national finalist in the Christopher Columbus Foundation-U.S. Chamber of Commerce Life Sciences Awards, and a finalist in the Connecticut Junior Sciences and Humanities Symposium. A National Honors Society member and AP Scholar, he helped develop easy-to-use educational software for children as part of the One Laptop Per Child program. He is also a classical and jazz bassist who has played with the Norwalk Youth Symphony and performed at Carnegie Hall and Tanglewood. John hopes to dedicate his career to researching innovative solutions for global challenges such as disease, pollution and hunger.
Oak Ridge High School, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Beyond Gaming: Using Kinect for Xbox 360 and Computer Vision to Analyze Human Gait - Bioengineering
MENTORS: Dr. John K. Mueller and Dr. Boyd McCutchen Evans III, University of Tennessee
“Many people in need of gait analysis do not have access to clinics or gait labs.”
Every human being has a different pattern of walking. An accurate understanding of a person’s motion is important in prescribing and determining the success of treatment for those with injuries or ailments which affect movement, such as amputees or people with joint replacements. In their research, Ziyuan Liu and Cassee Cain combined the use of the Kinect™ for Xbox 360®, a device with a camera and a depth sensor, and a robotic leg to analyze leg motions while walking. The team’s project may help with the development of an accurate, affordable device to detect abnormal gait patterns.
“I have always liked science and thought it was the only way for humans to progress.”
Born in Qujing, Yunnan, China, Ziyuan dreams of becoming the head of a software company or a banking firm on Wall Street. A senior, he is the founder and chairman of the Solar Initiative Committee to educate others in his school and community about solar energy. A member of the International Relations Club and French National Honor Society, Ziyuan enjoys playing the alto saxophone and swimming.
“I wanted to use my love for medicinal studies and computers to help others in need.”
Cassee, a senior, is the drum major of her high school marching band and the costume designer of the drama club. She has always been interested in health care and dreams of becoming an oncologist. Cassee’s thirst for knowledge has pushed her to enroll in harder classes. A National Honor Society National Achiever, Cassee plans to major in chemical engineering.
Troy High Schoool, Troy, Michigan
MicroRNA 17-92 Cluster Mediates Sonic Hedgehog Induced Neurogenesis on Neural Stem Cells After Stroke - Biology
MENTOR: Dr. Michael Chopp, Henry Ford Hospital
“Harnessing the phenomenon of neurogenesis may prove imperative to discovering new treatments for stroke and other degenerative disorders.”
Neurogenesis, or the birth of neurons generated from neural stem cells, is a relatively new science with the potential to aid in the recovery of stroke, degenerative diseases and brain injuries. MicroRNAs (miRNA) are a recently discovered class of small RNAs that regulate protein expression and can thus play a role in the function of neural stem cells. In their project, Edgar Wang, Wayne Shu and Justin Yuan studied the miR-17-92 cluster, a group of six miRNAs produced together, and its effect on neural stem cells post-stroke. Their research indicates that the miR-17-92 cluster promotes brain stem cell growth, potentially enhancing neurogenesis. The team’s data suggests that miR-17-92 cluster could be used as a therapeutic target for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and other neurodegenerative diseases, possibly through gene therapy or pharmacological treatments.
“I was always interested in how things worked. Science explained a lot of the happenings around me.”
Edgar, a senior, was a finalist in the Future Problem Solvers International Competition, a gold medalist in the World Piano Competition Young Artists’ Division and a National Chemistry Olympiad finalist with honors. He would like to be a biochemist at a large research institution.
“The thought of impacting the world with a discovery is a beautiful and strong motivator for me.”
Wayne, a junior, is president of his class Student Government and Model United Nations. A passionate musician, he is the leader of his school’s a cappella group and concert master of its orchestra. He loves to write music and play the piano, violin, guitar, ukulele and harmonica. A member of his school’s junior varsity basketball team, Wayne is considering becoming a musician.
“For some reason, the brain has always been a fascination of mine.”
Justin was born in Taiwan and moved to the U.S. when he was one year old. He is the president of the Spanish club and plays trumpet in his school’s marching band, as well as piano and guitar. This high school senior is a member of the Boy Scouts and a long distance runner for the track team. He would like to study chemistry, biology or pre-medicine in college.
Evanston Township Highschool, Evanston, Illinois
Morphological Classification of Post-Starburst Galaxies - Astrophysics
MENTOR: Dr. Laura Trouille, Northwestern University
“Our astronomy project helps explain the evolution of galaxies.”
In their research, Julia CrowleyFarenga and Patrick Loftus described the visual classification of 2,811 post-starburst galaxies. Their research sought to better understand the evolution of galaxies, from blue and star forming to red and non-star forming galaxies, and to better understand the relationship between star formation rate and black hole accretion. Their results support the theory that massive galaxies transition from star forming to non-star forming by the process of mergers. The time delay in black hole accretion and star formation may occur because low energy wind that is able to fuel black hole accretion is not produced until less massive, longer-lived stars reach their planetary-nebula phase and gently expel their outer layers.
“I had never taken a class in astronomy and I wanted to learn more about the subject that has fascinated me since childhood.”
From a young age, Julia would search for shooting stars and dreamed of becoming an astronaut traveling across the universe. She still hopes to be an astronaut or work for NASA. A senior, she plans to major in engineering, materials science or nanotechnology. Julia is president of the Community Service Club at her high school and a member of the varsity track and field team. In her free time, she enjoys gardening and is an enthusiastic Chicago sports fan.
“My interest in this matter was a combination of love of the mystery and beauty in space, and the exciting drive to contribute something to this field.”
Patrick is a member of the Midwest Young Artists Symphony Orchestra and percussion ensemble. He is also a member of his high school’s gymnastics team, where he is currently a senior. Patrick plans to major in computer science, mathematics or physics and hopes to become a professor “with room to travel and research often.”
Oceanside High School, Oceanside, New York, and
Horace Mann High School, Bronx, New York
Using novel small molecule derivatives to therapeutically modulate erlotinib-resistant lung adenocarcinoma - Biochemistry
MENTOR: Dr. Goutham Narla, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
“Our biochemistry project has the potential to regress the majority of lung adenocarcinoma tumors.”
Metastatic lung cancer patients invariably develop chemo resistance to certain therapies. Unfortunately, FDA-approved antipsychotics that are effective in spontaneous apoptosis (cell death) also have unwanted side effects. Blake Smith and Vickram Gidwani were involved in efforts to reverse-engineer novel compounds from two structurally related antipsychotics, TFP and Chlorimipramine (CIP). They were able to arrive at two derivatives that induced significant cell death without the toxic side effects on the central nervous system. These small molecules may prove to be promising monotherapies for the treatment of chemotherapy resistant lung cancer.
“It was the constant thought of how a single, unpredictable disease could take the lives of so many that made me want to pursue this project.”
For Blake, the desire to pursue cancer research is personal. In 2006, both of his grandparents were diagnosed with the disease. A senior, he earned a First Award in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the 2011 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). He is vice president of his school’s World Interest Club, plays the viola in the symphonic orchestra and is a member of the varsity tennis team. He plans to study biochemistry or biology in college and to eventually become an oncologist, hematologist or medical geneticist. Blake is the first student from his school to compete as a Regional Finalist in the Siemens Competition.
“I am awed by the level of detail we, as humans, know about our bodies and the tools and methods we have developed to study them.”
Vickram is a senior member of his school’s fusion club and has competed in the Science Olympiad, Physics Olympiad and JETS (Junior Engineering Technical Society) Competition. This high school junior divides his extracurricular time between music and tennis as a saxophonist with two school bands and a tennis player on two teams. He hopes to major in business and engineering and to become the CEO of his own company.
Lowell High School, San Francisco, California,
Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Denton, Texas, and
Westwood High School, Austin, Texas
Determining the Existence of Graceful Valuations of Various Families of Graphs - Mathematics
MENTOR: Dr. Edward Early, St. Edward’s University
“We all decided that the topic of graceful graph theory was not only interesting, but had many possible avenues for further research as well as real-world applications.”
Andrew Xu, Kevin Chang and Kevin Tian developed three new algorithms to construct graceful labelings for several families of graphs. Using graph theory as a model, the team’s results could provide an important contribution towards the Graceful Tree Conjecture, one of the most famous unsolved problems in graph labeling. The team used Skype, Google Documents and a consistent schedule of weekly check-in meetings to communicate across two states and complete their project.
“Math has always fascinated me, and I have dreamed about making my own contribution to this remarkable field ever since I was young.”
A senior, Andrew is a winner of the Dong Lieu Science Prize and founder and president of ScienceDays, a program that brings hands-on science experiments to elementary schools. He works on creating worksheets for YouTube math videos created by Vi Hart, and enjoys basketball, swimming and playing the piano. Andrew is exploring various majors and hopes to become a research mathematician. He is the first student from his school to be named a Regional Finalist in the Siemens Competition.
“Ever since I was a child, I was interested in the fields of study that math professors researched, and have wanted the experience of working in math research firsthand.”
Kevin, a junior, is a three-time Texas ARML Gold Team Member and has qualified multiple times for the U.S. Math and Junior Math Olympiads. He organized a MathStar club for elementary and middle school kids in his community and is president of the math club. He plans to major in math and business, with hopes of pursuing a career in one of those fields.
“It is always exciting to be able to feed my creative problem-solving energies into a meaningful pursuit and to improve what is known in pushing the boundaries of mathematics.”
Kevin, a senior, was a Regional Finalist in last year’s Siemens Competition. An accomplished musician, he is a viola player in his school orchestra and also plays the violin, piano, guitar, ukulele and harmonica. Fluent in Mandarin and proficient in French, he is vice president of the IB Student Organization, which promotes community service, and enjoys playing basketball. Kevin plans to major in economics or math and become a professor in mathematics or a related field.
Palo Alto Senior High School, Palo Alto, California, and
Henry M. Gunn High School, Palo Alto, California
Novel Diagnostic and Prognostic Utilities Integrating Clinical and Molecular Findings to Manage Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Neonatal Care - Bioengineering
MENTOR: Karl Sylvester
“There is a critical need for better molecular identification of Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) to assist in altering its onset, progression and treatment.”
Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is the most common and serious gastrointestinal disease and a leading cause of overall morbidity and mortality in premature infants. In their project, Jeffery Ling and Helen Jiang set out to develop a data-driven system to help identify NEC infants most likely to progress to severe disease. The team’s approach integrates demographic, clinical and molecular-based classifiers in an effort to improve neonatal care.
“I was interested in the problems of data analysis and data mining because of their connections to mathematics.”
Jeffrey, a junior, is captain of Science Olympiad and a 2011 USA junior Math Olympiad winner. He is active in community service, tutoring and helping middle school students with math and science. Jeffrey plays the piano and enjoys playing Frisbee and badminton. He first became interested in math in sixth grade, when he discovered “how tricky mathematics is.” He hopes to become an inventor and “create something interesting and worthwhile that can benefit the lives of everyone in the world.”
“I love how the real world is incorporated into a statistics class.”
When Helen’s younger sister was five years old, she broke her arm and had to go to the hospital. While staying there with her sister, Helen was inspired to find ways to help children born with diseases that forced them to stay in hospitals for long periods of time. This junior is co-president of S.A.G.E Club (business club), where students create and promote their own businesses. She plays volleyball, soccer and ultimate Frisbee and loves to sing and write lyrics. Her dream job is to become a university professor.