2001 Intel Science Talent Search Winners
First Place: $100,000 scholarship, Viviana Risca, 17, Paul D.Schreiber Senior High School, Port Washington, N.Y., for her computer science project, “DNA-based Steganography,” which studied steganography, a data encryption technique that embeds secret messages within large amounts of seemingly innocent information.
She encrypted the message, “JUNE6_INVASION: NORMANDY,” inserted it in the gene sequence of a DNA-strand, and flanked it by two secret “primer” DNA sequences. Then she combined the molecule with many other similar molecules. The hidden message could be retrieved only by someone knowing the two secret primer sequences. Because the pair of primers provides a trillion trillion options, she concluded that the code is essentially unbreakable.
Second Place: $75,000 scholarship, Jayce Getz, 18, Big Sky High School, Missoula, Mont., for his mathematics project titled “Extension of a Theorem of Kiming and Olsson for the Partition Function.” He shows divisibility properties of the number of ways that a positive integer can be written as a sum.
Third Place: $50,000 scholarship, Feng Zhang, 18, Theodore Roosevelt High School, Des Moines, Iowa, for his biochemistry project in molecular virology titled “Genetic Functional Analysis of the Moloney Murine Leukemia Virus GAG Gene Reveals an Inhibitory Element that can be Masked to Control Retroviral Assembly.” He investigated whether parts of the structural protein GAG could become useful targets for therapy of viral infections like HIV/AIDS by disrupting the assembly of infectious viruses.
Fourth Place: $25,000 scholarship, Alexander 'Sasha' Schwartz, 17, Radnor High School, Radnor, Pa., for his mathematics project, “On Coset Partitions of Abelian Groups.” He worked on abstract algebra, determining when a finite Abelian group can be partitioned into cosets of distinct subgroups.
Fifth Place: $25,000, Eugene Simuni, 18, Midwood High School at Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, N.Y., for his biochemistry project “The Role of Interdomain Interactions in the Activation Mechanism of the G Proteins, ” where he explored protein transmission of visual signals to the brain.
Sixth Place: $25,000 scholarship, Matthew Reece, 18, duPont Manual Magnet High School, Louisville, Ky., for his mathematics project titled “Proposal of a New Multiscale Wavelet Method for Faster Solution of Fluid Dynamics Problems,” which provides an adaptive and possibly faster way of simulating fluid flow.
Seventh Place: $20,000 scholarship, Kerry Ann Geiler, 17, Massapequa High School, Massapequa, NY. He presented a behavioral and social sciences project entitled “The Ants Go Marching Two by Two: A Multivariate Analysis of the Physical and Chemical Communication of Formicidae Species.” Her study gives new insights into how ants communicate, and provides a building block for further inquires into the communications among the world's insects.
Eighth Place: $20,000 scholarship, Elizabeth Williams, 17, Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., for her behavioral and social sciences project entitled, “Visual Search: A Novel Psychophysics for Pre-Attentive Vision,” which looks at ways the brain perceives combinations of light and shape called “simultaneous contrast,” a classic effect studied by perceptual psychologists.
Ninth Place: $20,000 scholarship, Zachary Cohn, 17, Half Hollow Hills High School East, Dix Hills, N.Y., for his mathematics project entitled, “Reciprocity Laws Establishing the Quadratic Character of Remainder Classes over Polynomials with Coefficients in a Prime Dimensional Field,” which brings a new perspective to the study of perfect squares.
Tenth Place: $20,000 scholarship, Bob Cherng, 17, Troy High School, Fullerton, Calif., for his atmospheric chemistry project entitled, “Gas Phase Formation of Solid Ammonium Halides: A Computational Study, ”which studies the transition of two gases—ammonia and hydrogen halid— into airborne clusters of solid ammonium halide. He believes his work, all done by computer, could be applied to the study of how acid rain is formed, or how the ozone is depleted.
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