Three High School Students Named Finalists in 59th Annual Intel Science Talent Search

January 27, 2000
two from Montgomery Blair High School and one from Quince Orchard High School -- have been named finalists in the 59th annual Intel Science Talent Search.

The local students are among 40 national finalists in the talent search, in which students entered papers on their independent research projects in science, engineering, mathematics and computer science.

The three MCPS students are the only finalists in Maryland. The state was third in the nation in number of finalists, topped only by New York and California. Aside from one New York high school that had three finalists, Montgomery Blair and three other New York high schools that also had two finalists were the only schools with multiple finalists. In the Washington metropolitan area, Sidwell Friends School also had one finalist.

The three MCPS finalists, and their projects, are:

Quince Orchard High School

  • Joshua Levy, 18, "mtCLIC: a p53 and Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha Regulated Mitochondrial Chloride Channel Involved in Apoptosis." This research project, in the medicine and health category, examined whether a naturally occurring suicide in cells-apoptosis-that automatically removes cells from the body before they become cancerous could be artificially induced. Levy, a volunteer researcher at NIH, hopes to attend Cornell and become a field virologist.

    Montgomery Blair High School

  • Elizabeth Epstein, 17, "Sensitivity of Gaussian Orbit Reduction to Time Spacing." This project, in the earth and space sciences category, developed a way to improve the accuracy of predicting asteroid orbits. Epstein hopes to attend Stanford University and become a neurobiologist.

  • Jonathan Simon, 17, "Optimization of Multi-level Subwavelength Diffractive Optical Elements Using a Wavelet Basis." This physics-based engineering project streamlined the process for testing diffractive lenses (used in devices such as digital cameras and optical interconnections). Simon plans to study at Caltech for a career in optics research.

    The three were selected from 300 semifinalists who, in turn, were chosen from among 1,517 applications submitted from 530 high schools in 48 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

    MCPS had 16 of Maryland's 18 semifinalists in the prestigious talent search-13 from Montgomery Blair and one each from Quince Orchard, Walt Whitman and Thomas S. Wootton high schools. Blair tied with a New York school for the most semifinalists, followed by Thomas Jefferson High School in Virginia, with 12 semifinalists.

    Students were judged on their individual research reports for their research ability, scientific originality and creative thinking. The research projects cover all disciplines of science, including chemical, physical, mathematics, engineering, social and biological.

    The recent selections continue MCPS' tradition of excellence in the Science Talent Search. Since 1993, the system has had 99 semifinalists, 16 of whom went on to be named finalists. In 1996, a Montgomery Blair High School student won the top scholarship in the nation.

    The 40 finalists will now compete for the top 10 Intel scholarships. This year Intel has increased award scholarships and equipment from $330,000 to $1.2 million. The top prize will be increased from a $50,000 to a $100,000 scholarship. The top 10 winners will be announced on March 13.

    The Science Talent Search, America's oldest and most prestigious pre college science competition (sponsored by the Westinghouse Foundation until last year) is sponsored by the Intel Corporation, headquartered in Santa Clara, California, in partnership with Science Service, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization.

    Statistics show that 95 percent of former finalists have pursued some branch of science as their major field of study. More than 70 percent have gone on to earn Ph.D.s or M.D.s. Science Talent Search alumni include five Nobel Laureates, nine MacArthur Foundation Fellows, three National Medals of Science holders and two Fields medalists.

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