Four Students are Sole Regional Finalists in Intel Science Search

January 30, 2002
Three young women are among the four Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) finalists in the 61st annual Intel Science Talent Search. MCPS is the only school system in the metropolitan Washington area with finalists this year in the prestigious science competition.

The four MCPS finalists, one from Walt Whitman High School and three from Montgomery Blair High School, 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 finalists were selected from a group of 300 semifinalists who, in turn, were chosen from among 1,592 applicants representing 31 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. This year, Montgomery Blair High School had 17 semifinalists in the Intel competitionmore than any school in the nation.

The MCPS finalists are:

§ Ophelia Shalini Venturelli, 17, of Walt Whitman High School, for her medical study, “Protective Role of Estrogen in the Ocular Lens: Implications for Postmenopausal Cataract. Venturelli’s research analyzed certain types of cataracts in male and female rats before and after their exposure to a transforming growth factor and confirmed the protective role of estrogen in preventing cataract formation. She hopes to study pre-medicine at Brown University and is planning a career in medicine and biomedical research.

§ Jennifer Christy Alyono, 17, of Montgomery Blair High School, for her engineering project, “Development of an Electrochemical Biosensor for Phospholipase C Based on Supported Hybrid Lipid Bilayer Membranes.” Alyono’s project seeks to simplify methods for detecting the presence of biological molecules, essential in a number of medical applications, including diagnosis and treatment of diseases, identification of biohazards and research in life sciences. She hopes to attend Stanford and become a doctor.

§ Jean Li, 18, of Montgomery Blair High School, for her earth and space sciences project, “Chemical Origins of Extraterrestrial Organic Macromolecules in Carbonaceous Chondritic Meteorites.” The project investigated the origin of carbon compounds in primitive meteorites and the mechanism for their development. Li plans to attend Columbia University.

§ Jacob Samuels Burnim, 18, of Montgomery Blair High School, for his engineering project, “On the Scaling of Electronic Charge-storing Memory Down to the Size of Molecules.” Burnim analyzed the performance impact of shrinking random access memory (RAM) for computers from micrometer scale to molecular scale. His calculations suggest that some forms of this new memory should be able to function nearly as fast as present-day memory and store data at least 20,000 times more densely. Burnim is considering a number of colleges, especially MIT.

The 40 finalists will compete for top scholarships in Washington, D.C. on March 6th though the 11th .

The Science Talent Search is sponsored by the Intel Corporation in partnership with Science Service, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization. Science Talent Search alumni include five Nobel Laureates, 10 MacArthur Foundation Fellows, and two Fields Medalists. Since 1993, MCPS has had 127 semifinalists, 22 of whom went on to be named finalists. In 1996, a Montgomery Blair High School student won the top scholarship in the nation.

Additional information is available on the Science Service web site.

<<Back to browse