Two Seniors from Montgomery Blair High School Named Finalists in Intel Science Talent Search

January 31, 2001
Two Montgomery Blair High School seniors have been named finalists in the 60th annual Intel Science Talent Search.

They are among 40 national finalists in the talent search, in which high school seniors entered papers on their independent research projects in science, engineering, mathematics and computer science. The finalists will compete for college scholarships totaling $530,000, with a top prize of a $100,000 scholarship.

The two Blair students are the only finalists in Maryland. In the metropolitan Washington area, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax, Virginia, also had two finalists.

The finalists were selected from a group of 300 semifinalists who, in turn, were chosen from among 1,592 applicants representing 36 states and the District of Columbia. Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) had 11 of Maryland's 14 semifinalists 10 of them from Montgomery Blair, which houses the county's science/mathematics/computer science magnet program, and one from Thomas S. Wootton High School.

The MCPS finalists are:

- Alan Mark Dunn, 17, for his computer sciences project, "Optimization of Advanced Encryption Standard Candidate Algorithms for the Macintosh G4." Encryption is a critical tool for maintaining the privacy and anonymity of electronic communications, and the algorithms are being considered for the federal government's Advanced Encryption Standard, which will replace the aging Data Encryption Standard. Dunn hopes to study computer science or engineering at MIT.

- William Abraham Pastor, 18, for his biochemistry project, "Synthesis and Computer Modeling of BETA-Amyloid Fibrils Associated with Alzheimer's Disease." Pastor believes his study of the formation of fibrils the primary component of the deposits found in the brains of Alzheimer patients helps explain why fibrils form and why, under certain conditions, they don't, leading to possible treatment for Alzheimer's.

The 40 finalists will attend the Science Talent Institute in Washington, D.C., March 7-12, where they will participate in final judging and other activities. The winners will be announced March 12.

The Science Talent Search, America's oldest and most prestigious precollege science competition, will celebrate its 60th anniversary this year. The competition is sponsored by the Intel Corporation, headquartered in Santa Clara, California, in partnership with Science Service, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization. Search alumni include 10 MacArthur Foundation Fellows, two Fields Medalists and five Nobel Laureates.

Since 1993, MCPS has had 110 semifinalists, 18 of whom went on to be named finalists. In 1996, a Montgomery Blair High School student won the top scholarship in the nation.

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