Yet Another Successful Showing at ISEF
In May, TJ sent four students and their faculty chaperone, Science & Technology Division Head Matthew Pearce, to Los Angeles for the 65th annual Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF). Two of the four students had qualified for ISEF by capturing the first and third Grand Prizes respectively at the Virginia State Science & Engineering Fair, and the other two qualified by virtue of having each been awarded Grand Prize at the Fairfax County Regional Fair.
ISEF is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, with approximately 1,700 high school students from more than 70 countries showcasing their independent research. When the results were announced on May 16th, two TJ seniors were among the Grand Award winners.
Senior Manotri Chaubal (pictured), who received the Governor’s Award and First Grand Prize at the State Fair, took a $500 Fourth Grand Award at ISEF for her Cellular & Molecular Biology project, “Reprogramming Hair Follicle Stem Cells into Cardiomyocytes.” Manotri literally pulled her hair out over her project, but not in frustration; it was to obtain hair follicle stem cells needed for conversion into cardiac cells.
Senior Parth Chopra, who was awarded Grand Prize at the Fairfax County Regional fair, claimed a $1,500 Second Grand Award at ISEF — and a First Special Award of $1,500 from the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence — for his Computer Science project, “A Novel Computational Agent-Based Model for the Outbreak, Spread, and Containment of Tuberculosis.” Applying his model to Nairobi’s well-studied Kibera slum, he identified the main transmission routes and devised public health recommendations for efficient containment.
Also attending ISEF this year was junior Matthew Park, who took Third Grand Prize at the State Fair for his Microbiology project, “Approaching Anti-Viral Therapeutics via Sequence Analysis of Nucleoprotein and Glycogen Precursor Proteins of Lassa Virus” and senior Archis Bhandarkar, who was awarded Grand Prize at the Regional Fair for his Mathematical Sciences project,“On the Unique Roles of Neurocomputational States in Neocortical Circuits.” At ISEF Archis received a Special Award from the World Economic Forum that includes an invitation to the group’s annual Meeting of New Champions in Tianjin, China. Mr. Pearce summed up his report on the event by saying, “All four students served as wonderful ambassadors from our school and county.”
Intel STS and Siemens Complete the Science Fair Triple Crown
In January, five TJ seniors were recognized as semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search (Intel), the nation’s most prestigious science research competition for high school seniors. Intel, formerly known as Westinghouse, is now in its 73rd year. There were no other semifinalists from FCPS. TJ’s 2014 Intel semifinalists and their projects were: Archis Bandarkar (see ISEF); Tina Ju, “Discovery and Engineering of Exceptionally Potent Biological Inhibitors of Infections Caused by MERS-CoV and Influenza H7N9;” Lucas Kang, “Investigation of Rule 73 as a Case Study of Class 4 Long-Distance Cellular Automata;” Kunal Khurana, “Investigating the Cellular Roles of the RanBP2 Protein;” and William Moses, “Online Adaptive Frequency Hopping.”
Six TJ juniors were named Regional Finalists in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology (Siemens) in October 2013. A record 2,440 students submitted 1,600 projects, with only 100 students chosen as Regional Finalists. TJ’s Regional Finalists were: Timothy Cha (w/Sandy Cho, McLean HS); the team of Jeffery Liu, Jessica Wu, and Wilson Zhou; and the team of Oliver Shi and Kevin Wan (w/Ben Wang of Oakton HS). Siemens named an additional 17 semifinalists from TJ, for a combined total higher than any school in the country.
More Science Fair Kudos
Conrad Foundation Innovation Summit
In April, two TJ teams were among the 20 finalists chosen from 385 entries to attend the Conrad Foundation Innovation Summit in Houston, Texas:
A team of juniors — Pooja Chandrashekar, Ramya Radhakrishnan, and Heather Lukas (at right) — designed Sensitive Solutions – OmniSENSE, an implantable glucose sensor that wirelessly communicates with a mobile app on a smartphone device in order to better manage blood-glucose levels.
A team of sophomores — Jasper Treakle, Valerie Chen, Matthew Sun, and Raghav Ramraj (below) — designed TXT U L8R – AutoSense, a device that interprets 3D modeling data from a Microsoft Kinect to detect when a driver loses focus and to refocus the driver.
“The Innovation Summit was an amazing opportunity to meet and become friends with so many brilliant, talented, and unique individuals,” Matthew said. Jasper agreed, adding, “We got to not only compete against teams from around the world, but also share ideas and inventions with them.”
Sustainable World Project Olympiad
In early May, Houston was the host city for another specialized science fair attended by TJ students. The seventh annual International Sustainable World (Energy, Engineering & Environment) Project Olympiad (I-SWEEEP) attracted almost 600 students from 66 countries and 44 states. Students qualified to compete in one of I-SWEEEP’s three categories either by winning a top prize at a state or regional science fair or competing at a local fair and submitting an application. In addition to the usual science fair rubric, projects were judged on their promise for solving one of the globe’s significant sustainability problems.
Competing in the Engineering category, Ivy Ren, TJ ’14, and her partner Joseph Cappadona of Lynbrook HS, New York (at right), won a Gold Medal for their Materials Science project, “Meeting the Challenge of Producing Thermally Conductive and Flame Retardant Polymers.” The two worked together over the summer as Research Scholars in the Garcia Center for Polymers at Engineered Interfaces at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
“My time at I-SWEEEP blew away my expectations,” Ivy said. “I had a blast presenting my research, meeting new people from diverse backgrounds, and learning about projects in other fields. The scheduled tours of NASA and the science museum were just icing on the cake.”
Junior Science & Humanities Symposium
At the 52nd National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium held in DC in late April senior Sam Rohrer was awarded third place and a $4,000 scholarship for the paper he submitted in the Engineering category, “Novel Beamforming Approach to Stereo Sound.” The Symposium is co-sponsored by the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
Pictured with Sam, from left to right, are William LaPlante, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force; Mary Miller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology; and Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, Chief of Naval Research and Director, Innovation, Technology Requirements, and Test & Evaluation.