Intel and Society for Science & the Public (SSP) recognized the winners of the nation’s most elite and demanding high school research competition—the Intel Science Talent Search—at a gala Tuesday night at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C .
Nithin Tumma, 17, of Fort Gratiot, Mich., won the top award of $100,000 from the Intel Foundation for his research, which could lead to more direct, targeted, effective and less toxic breast cancer treatments. He analyzed the molecular mechanisms in cancer cells and found that by inhibiting certain proteins, we may be able to slow the growth of cancer cells and decrease their malignancy. Nithin is first in his class of 332, a varsity tennis player and a volunteer for the Port Huron Museum, where he started a restoration effort for historical and cultural landmarks.
Second place and $75,000 went to Andrey Sushko, 17, of Richland, Wash., for his development of a tiny motor, only 7 mm (almost 1/4 inch) in diameter, which uses the surface tension of water to turn its shaft. Born in Russia, Andrey worked from home to create his miniature motor, which could pave the way for other micro-robotic devices. Andrey, a long-time builder of small boats, recently filed for a Guinness World Record for the smallest radio-controlled sailing yacht.
Third place honors and $50,000 went to Mimi Yen, 17, of Brooklyn, N.Y., for her study of evolution and genetics, which focuses on microscopic worms, specifically looking at their sex habits and hermaphrodite tendencies. Mimi believes that through research such as hers, we may better understand the genes that contribute to behavioral variations in humans. Mimi was born in Honduras and is fluent in Cantonese. She plays French horn and volunteers to prepare and deliver meals to people with serious illnesses.
The top three winners—Andrey Sushko, Nithin Tumma, and Mimi Yen—pose with CEO Paul Otellini at the awards ceremony Tuesday night.
These finalists join the ranks of other notable Science Talent Search alumni who over the past 70 years have gone on to win seven Nobel Prizes, two Fields Medals, four National Medals of Science, 11 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and even an Academy Award for Best Actress.
“Hands-on experience with math and science, such as that required of Intel Science Talent Search finalists, encourages young people to think critically, solve problems and understand the world around them, said CEO Paul Otellini. “Rather than simply memorizing facts and formulas, or repeating experiments with known outcomes, this competition engages students in an exciting way and provides a deeper level of understanding in such important but challenging subjects.”
In total, the Intel Foundation awarded $1.25 million for the Intel Science Talent Search 2012. When Intel assumed the title sponsorship 14 years ago, it increased the annual awards by more than $1 million to bring greater attention to math and science achievement, encourage more youth to embrace these fields, and further show the impact these subjects have on the country’s future success.
This year’s finalists hail from 16 states and represent 39 schools. Of the 1,839 high school seniors who entered the Intel Science Talent Search 2012, 300 were announced as semifinalists in January. Of those, 40 were chosen as finalists and invited to Washington, D.C., to compete for the top 10 awards.
Read more about the Intel Science Talent Search—and learn about the top ten winners—in the Intel Newsroom.
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