2014 SIEMENS COMPETITION IN MATH, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Region 3, University of Notre Dame Regional Finalists INDIVIDUAL COMPETITORS WALTER LI Canterbury High School, Fort Wayne, IN HOMETOWN: Fort Wayne, IN PROJECT: Solar Cell Efficiency in Relation to Composition and Concentration of Glass Frit in Front-Side Silver Pastes FIELD: Chemistry MENTOR: Dr. Panjian Li “I enjoy mathematics because of its deep truths.” Walter was interested in solar energy and improving its efficiency. He used research from silicon substrates to explore ways to move the current from the silicon. His research could lead to more effective solar energy collection. Walter coaches middle school students for MathCounts and plays the cello in the Ft. Wayne Youth Symphony. He also plays soccer and attributes his interest in math and science to his childhood dinosaur toys. Walter feels that students can be encouraged to explore STEM through the art of discovery. RISHABH KUMAR Carmel High School, Carmel, IN HOMETOWN: Carmel, IN PROJECT: Mathematical Analysis of Ion Channels FIELD: Physics MENTOR: Dr. Horia I. Petrache, Associate Professor, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (Indianapolis, Indiana) “Education at the elementary level is very important. Students must develop a passion for STEM right from elementary school. Science/math camps and science fairs should be encouraged.” Rishabh has an intuitive passion for math and wants to become a neurologist. Therefore, he wanted to do a project in which he could combine mathematics and biology. Rishabh developed a mathematical model that researchers can use to study biological ion channels. Rishabh has taken 14 advanced STEM courses and was the winner of Biophysical Society "Changing Our World" international essay contest. He also spends time sharing what he has learned, mentoring and tutoring kids who need help in math. Rishabh is an attorney at Reach for Youth Teen Court, and enjoys playing basketball and tennis with friends. PETER TIAN The Wellington School, Columbus, OH HOMETOWN: Hilliard, OH PROJECT: Extremal Functions of Forbidden Multidimensional Matrices FIELD: Mathematics MENTOR: Jesse Geneson, Ph.D. Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts) “The most surprising experience was discovering the notion of super-homogeneity. It was something that I first dismissed as too trivial but it became an important idea with far-reaching consequences.” Peter said a childhood interest in patterns let him to a later interest in pattern avoidance. His project makes significant advancements in the theory of pattern avoidance for higher dimensional matrices, which may have applications in robot motion planning and wire routing in VLSI circuits. Peter is the co-founder and co-president for the Wellington Math Club, runs for the cross-country team, plays alto saxophone, and volunteers at the Center of Science and Industry. He intends to become a professor of mathematics, his favorite subject. CHARLES PEI Upper Arlington High School, Upper Arlington, OH HOMETOWN: Upper Arlington, OH PROJECT: An Industrial Method of Biofuel Production from Chitin: Moving Towards Profitability FIELD: Engineering MENTOR: Jie Dong, The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) “Getting this far in the Siemens competition is both a welcome surprise and proud accomplishment for me.” Charles developed a method of producing biofuel that could lead to an alternative to food-based biofuels. He said he was inspired to pursue his research because of a desire to solve global environmental problems such as global warming and resource depletion. Charles, a concertmaster for his school’s orchestra, also plays the violin at nursing homes and soup kitchens. He speaks three languages and has completed all AP math and science courses offered at his school. His favorite classes are biology and chemistry because they explain daily observations. ACHAL FERNANDO-PEIRIS Mount Vernon High School, Mt. Vernon, OH HOMETOWN: Gambier, OH PROJECT: Fabricating an Artificial Nose Using Mesoporous Photonic Crystals FIELD: Materials Science MENTOR: Frank Peiris, Kenyon College (Gambier, Ohio) “I am extremely excited about the emerging field of neuroscience.” Achal decided to try and create a device to detect and differentiate different smells after reading an article published by scientists at Bates College that stated that smell could be categorized into ten basic areas. Initially he had trouble with the optical signal being the same with two of the smells, but he was able to achieve success through silanization of the crystals. Achal is a member of the Youth Philharmonic of Central Ohio and plays on the varsity tennis team. His career goals range from doctor to researcher to musician. He also speaks four languages and has taken four advanced STEM courses. 2014 SIEMENS COMPETITION IN MATH, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Region 3, University of Notre Dame Regional Finalists TEAM COMPETITORS DAVID HUANG, Troy High School, Troy, MI ERIC CHENG, Troy High School, Troy, MI PROJECT: The Synthesis, Structure, and Characterization of LiNi0.6Co0.2Mn0.2O2 as a Lithium Ion Battery FIELD: Chemistry MENTOR: Yang-Tse Cheng, University of Kentucky (Lexington, Kentucky) David and Eric are concerned about global warming. They hope their research will benefit the environment by promoting the development of batteries with greater energy capacity and longer life cycles. DAVID HUANG HOMETOWN: Troy, MI “In the United States, we need to present students with more opportunities to pursue math and science.” David is the cofounder of International Chemistry Online Olympiad (IChOO), tutors kids in math for the National Honor Society, plays baseball, and speaks Chinese. That didn’t keep him from taking two advanced classes this year and four others in previous years. ERIC CHENG HOMETOWN: Troy, MI “Technology is becoming more relevant in today's society and math and science leads to innovation for a better world.” Eric plans to pursue a career in business or law, but he believes STEM is important in any career path. He has taken four advanced classes, but said AP chemistry was his favorite because he learned how to push himself to work as hard as possible. DAVID WU, Troy High School, Troy, MI XINCHU TIAN, Troy High School, Troy, MI PROJECT: Exosomes Derived from Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Promote Axonal Growth FIELD: Biology MENTOR: Dr. Michael Chopp and Dr. Yi Zhang, Henry Ford Hospital (Detroit, Michigan) David and Xinchu examined exosomes, which are vesicles produced by almost all types of cells. They found that exosomes could be used to deliver treatments for various neurological diseases from cell to cell. Through their research, they have found a new way to improve axonal growth, which can help with the recovery of many neurological diseases and disorders, such as stroke and traumatic brain injury. DAVID WU HOMETOWN: Troy, MI “I was inspired to do work in this field because I have seen the many neurological diseases and disorders and the severe detrimental effects that they have on a large portion of the population.” David loves biology because he loves learning about how life works, but it is not his only passion. He also plays the violin and piano. He plans on becoming a doctor, specializing in cardiothoracic surgery. XINCHU TIAN HOMETOWN: Troy, MI “I remember the first time I sat down to analyze some cells we had cultured. My mentor showed me into a small, enclosed area that was sealed off to prevent outside light from coming in. The room was dark except for the light of the computer screen attached to a large microscope. The cells, a bright fluorescent color under the microscope, held a breathtaking beauty. To me, it looked like I was looking down on New York City’s lights, that first sight was amazing.” Xinchu is drawn to STEM, but she also plays the viola in her school’s symphony orchestra, is competitive in French, helps run a quiz bowl at a local middle school, and plays tennis. She plans to pursue a career in the medical field. DHRUV MEDARAMETLA, Troy High School, Troy, MI JUSTIN XU, Troy High School, Troy, MI PROJECT: Structural Properties of 2-Bijective Connection Networks FIELD: Mathematics MENTOR: Dr. Eddie Cheng, Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan) Dhruv and Justin studied the structural properties of a relatively obscure recursive class of graphs known as 2BCNs. They found that these graphs were extremely resilient and versatile, and that their implementation into future parallel processing networks would be very beneficial. DHRUV MEDARAMETLA HOMETOWN: Troy, MI “I aspire to be either a mathematician or an engineer. I want to do something that uses the knowledge I have acquired to solve real-world problems.” Dhruv has proven his enjoyment of math. He is taking three advanced math-heavy classes and coaches middle school students for the MathCounts competition. He was hooked on math at two years old when his parents gave him a numbers chart. Dhruv also enjoys playing the violin and running. JUSTIN XU HOMETOWN: Troy, MI Justin feels that math and science should be taught through real-world problems and solutions. “Math allows me to manipulate numbers, while physics helps me apply them. Studying both subjects helps me answer some of the questions I have towards the world.” He volunteers as a coach for his local middle school, teaching MathCounts techniques. In addition to his academic activities, Justin also plays the violin and enjoys tennis and swimming. PRANAV SIVAKUMAR, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Aurora, IL JANANI SIVAKUMAR, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Aurora, IL PROJECT: A Hybrid Photometric and Spectral Algorithm for Efficient Detection of Gravitationally Lensed Quasars FIELD: Physics MENTOR: Sivakumar Muthuswamy Pranav and Janani’s research objective is to help decipher two major mysteries in physics, namely dark energy and dark matter, by studying the gravitational lensing effect of objects that intervene between earth and the distant quasars. The experience reinforced their appreciation of key aspects of the research process: seeking solutions from adjacent areas of science, trying alternate approaches, looking for patterns in data, and using published research results to empirically find limiting parameters. PRANAV SIVAKUMAR HOMETOWN: Tower Lakes, IL “All kids love mysteries, and science is the ultimate whodunit.” Pranav was the 2013 national middle school Quiz Bowl Player of the Year, and he had a day named after him by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. He also speaks four languages and plays the piano and viola. Advanced STEM courses help Pranav ask more fundamental questions and force him to think beyond the obvious answers and stretch his reasoning abilities. JANANI SIVAKUMAR HOMETOWN: Tower Lakes, IL “It is exhilarating to see so many women and girls including my fellow students at IMSA make a foray into the STEM fields. I am committed to doing everything in my power to excite and engage girls to pursue studies in math and science.” Physics is Janani’s favorite subject, but she aspires to be a professional violinist. Along with violin, Janani also plays the viola and speaks three languages. Janani credits advanced STEM courses with helping her develop thinking, reasoning and questioning skills that will play a critical role as she pursues her dual passion in music and science at college level and beyond. SAVANNAH COFER, Columbus Academy, Gahanna, OH VARUN VALLABHANENI, Columbus Academy, Gahanna, OH PROJECT: Investigation of a Novel, Endothermic, Inorganic Fiber to Improve the High Temperature Performance of Fire-Resistant Protective Apparel FIELD: Materials Science MENTOR: Dr. Cameron Cofer, Cameron Cofer Associates (Columbus, Ohio) The materials used in fire-protective apparel essentially haven’t changed in over 40 years. Savannah and Varun began thinking about endothermic materials and believe they have come up with a very innovative solution. They investigated a new material that dramatically increases the temperature resistance of firefighter apparel, which has the potential to prevent serious injuries and loss of life when exposed to dangerous flashover fires. SAVANNAH COFER HOMETOWN: Gahanna, OH Savannah is currently taking physics, calculus, chemistry and biology. “I like how they explain and help me understand the world we live in. These courses will be fundamental to my future studies in engineering.” Savannah speaks Chinese, plays the flute, piccolo and piano, and mentors several middle school First Lego League robotics teams. She also, with her team, invented a cure for hand tremors and a low cost, earthquake-resistant housing structure for third world countries. VARUN VALLABHANENI HOMETOWN: Gahanna, OH “The most surprising part of our research project was seeing the dramatic results of our simulated flashover test. I couldn't believe how our new material was completely unchanged, while the current firefighter fabric was destroyed within seconds.” Varun is a mentor for two middle school robotics teams and volunteers at the VA hospital. He has taken advanced classes in computer science, biology, chemistry and physics and speaks Telugu and Spanish. He enjoys tennis and bowling.
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