2014 SIEMENS COMPETITION IN MATH, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Regional Finalists

2014 SIEMENS COMPETITION IN MATH, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Region 2: University of Texas at Austin
Regional Finalists
INDIVIDUAL COMPETITORS
YUYAN MAI
Memorial High School, Houston, TX
HOMETOWN: Houston, TX
PROJECT: Imaging Diamagnetic L-Lactate with Paramagnetic CEST
Agents by MRI
FIELD: Chemistry
MENTOR: Dr. Andre Martins, Research Associate, University of Texas
at Dallas (Dallas, Texas); Dr. A. Dean Sherry, Professor of Chemistry,
University of Texas at Dallas (Dallas, Texas)
“I like that math, science and technology are constantly evolving; there's
always something new to discover, which I find really exciting.”
Yuyan discovered an MRI contrast agent sensitive to the presence of lactate. This contrast agent holds
the potential of making possible MR imaging of lactate concentration in tissues, thus creating a
promising method for early tumor detection and diagnosis.
Yuyan is the president of the National Art Honor Society, a math instructor at Mathnasium, a volunteer
at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, a pianist, and has taken five advanced STEM courses.
VINCENT TANG
Los Alamos High School, Los Alamos, NM
HOMETOWN: Los Alamos, NM
PROJECT: Identification and Characterization of HMGCL as a
Therapeutic Target in BRAF V600E Positive Melanoma
FIELD: Biochemistry
MENTOR: Jing Chen, PhD, Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia)
“I initially had a naive idea that there would be a straightforward
solution and path to follow, but that was quickly dispelled.”
Vincent developed a drug screening procedure for the identification of HMGCL inhibitors, which have a
potential application in the treatment of malignant melanoma. He said the most challenging experience
was reading and doing research on prior literature on his topic.
Vincent plays the violin, does ballroom dancing, and coaches fellow students in STEM classes. He has
also taken seven advanced STEM courses, speaks two languages, is a National Honor Society member,
and was a National Merit semifinalist.
VENKATA MACHA
Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School, Montgomery, AL
HOMETOWN: Pike Road, AL
PROJECT: A Novel Bioelectronic Chip for Noninvasive, Versatile Cancer
Detection
FIELD: Biology
MENTOR: Dr. Marsha A. Moses; Harvard Medical School and Boston
Children's Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts)
“Research is, no doubt, the best thing about STEM. Spending hours in the lab
before finally finding an answer that nobody has ever seen or knows about is
one of the most satisfying things about having such a background.”
Venkata developed a novel bioelectronic chip that uses only human urine to detect any type of cancer.
He said his most challenging experience was making a carbon nanotube-polymer dispersion for the chip.
He had several failed attempts, but succeeded through research and perseverance.
Venkata speaks three languages and has taken 10 advanced STEM courses. He is his school’s
valedictorian, an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America, and a National Merit semifinalist.
JIANING XIE
A&M Consolidated High School, College Station, TX
HOMETOWN: College Station, TX
PROJECT: Generalized Interatomic Two-Body Potential-Energy
Function
FIELD: Chemistry
MENTOR: Professor Tapas Kar, Chemistry Department, Utah State
University (Logan, Utah)
“The 3D printer is definitely the awesomest thing invented. It turns
imagination into reality.”
Jianing developed a generalized two-body potential energy function that is very useful in the geometry
optimization or dynamics study of large atomic clusters and biomolecules.
Jianing plays the violin and trumpet, volunteers as the Easter Bunny, speaks three languages, and
competes in Rubix Cube competitions. Jianing has taken six advanced STEM courses, and believes
offering STEM courses earlier in education would encourage more kids to pursue math and science
careers.
ANVITA GUPTA
BASIS Scottsdale, Scottsdale, AZ
HOMETOWN: Scottsdale, AZ
PROJECT: A Novel Method of Targeting Intrinsically Disordered Proteins
for Drug Discovery: Application to Cancer and Tuberculosis
FIELD: Biochemistry
MENTOR: Dr. Gil Alterovitz, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard
Medical School (Boston, Massachusetts)
“My interest in math and science was piqued by playing with and learning
to program LEGO Mindstorms robots that I received for my birthday.”
Anvita developed a novel method to find promising drugs for diseases like cancer and tuberculosis,
based on targeting intrinsically disordered proteins. These proteins make up seventy percent of all
cancer proteins and are implicated in Alzheimer's, Tuberculosis, and Ebola; consequently, this research
can be applied to find potential antivirals to combat the recent Ebola outbreak. She said the most
challenging experience in working on this research project was designing the approach to find inhibitors
of these disordered proteins, since they change shape constantly and make it difficult for drugs to bind
to them.
Anvita has founded and heads a computer science program for middle school girls (LITAS), has taken 16
advanced STEM courses, and speaks two languages (not including computer languages). She plays
basketball and volleyball, is a competitive swimmer, and plays the guitar and piano.
2014 SIEMENS COMPETITION IN MATH, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Region 2: University of Texas at Austin
Regional Finalists
TEAM COMPETITORS
AGNI KUMAR, Milton High School, Milton, GA
PATRICIA CHANG, Milton High School, Milton, GA
PROJECT: Evolution of Eukaryotic Ribosomes
FIELD: Biochemistry
MENTOR: Dr. Loren Williams, Jessica Bowman, Tim Lenz, & Eric O'Neill, Georgia Institute of
Technology (Atlanta, Georgia)
Agni and Patricia’s research tests the proposed model of ribosomal expansion, in which given sites of
eukaryotic expansion have conserved secondary structure even if the rRNA sequences are widely
divergent. Through computation and experiment, they analyzed the secondary structures of various
variable rRNA fragments, yielding results that can aid in understanding the evolution of the ribosome
and could contribute to great advances in the design of specific therapeutics for pathogens.
AGNI KUMAR
HOMETOWN: Milton, GA
“Mathematics is exquisite in its beauty of numbers and perfect proofs and
theorems! I love how these areas of study make one think in new ways.”
Agni hosted math meets during the summer, tutored students in AP
calculus, participated in the Mu Alpha theta StudyBuddy tutoring program,
speaks three languages, and plays the violin. She also enjoys swimming,
basketball, bicycling, badminton, and playing anything with her younger
sister.
PATRICIA CHANG
HOMETOWN: Milton, GA
“Math and science explain so much of the world, yet they still remain
extraordinary phenomena. Those two areas, in addition to technology, are
very dynamic. Every day, new things are being discovered or challenged.”
Patricia tutors students in math for the SAT, participates in the Mu Alpha
theta StudyBuddy tutoring program, tutors chemistry and biology for the
National Honor Society, plays tennis and the piano. She likes how advanced
STEM courses focus on discussion-based learning instead of lectures and
tedious assignments.
SCARLETT GUO, Dougherty Valley High School, San Ramon, CA
LAURA PANG, Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Denton, TX
PROJECT: Investigating Thrombogenic Properties of Various Polymer Surfaces through Fibrinogen
Fiber Formation and Platelet Preferential Binding and Activation
FIELD: Biochemistry
MENTOR: Dr. Miriam Rafailovich, Stony Brook University (Stony Brook, New York)
Scarlett and Laura found a process to determine whether fibrinogen fibers formed on different polymer
surfaces can activate platelets and potentially cause blood clots. This process can be used to screen
materials for biomedical devices.
SCARLETT GUO
HOMETOWN: San Ramon, CA
“I love how it's not end goal oriented. Science never ends. We can always do
more, giving me infinite purpose.”
Scarlett is a mentor for 5th grade science fair participants, has taken six
advanced STEM classes, speaks three languages, is a cross country runner,
and plays the piano. She said she is most proud of her relationship with her
amazing and loyal friends.
LAURA PANG
HOMETOWN: Houston, TX
“I am proud to have followed my passions regardless of the obstacles in the
way.”
Laura is an avid programmer, a co-founder of an MIT start-up company, has
taken eight advanced STEM courses, tutors for several organizations, speaks
three languages, and plays the piano and violin. She said she enjoys taking a
wide variety of courses to further her understanding and experience
potential career paths.
ELI ECHT-WILSON, La Cueva High School, Albuquerque, NM
ALBERT ZUO, La Cueva High School, Albuquerque, NM
PROJECT: A Detailed Computational Model of Tree Growth
FIELD: Biology
MENTOR: Dr. Sean Hammond, University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Eli and Albert created a computer model that simulates how a tree will grow in varying conditions, which
can replace long planting experiments. They said the most challenging part was fixing the bugs that
would arise each time new biological factors were introduced.
ELI ECHT-WILSON
HOMETOWN: Albuquerque, NM
“I am excited about applications of machine learning to scientific problems and
the everyday world.”
Eli is a spokesman for New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge, an AP computer
science mentor, and volunteer website designer. He also speaks two languages,
and plays both tennis and soccer.
ALBERT ZUO
HOMETOWN: Albuquerque, NM
“I like making the world a more interesting place. Stuff that we used to see only in
science fiction can now become a reality”
Albert is a middle school Mathcounts coach, speaks two languages, and plays
tennis and chess. He thinks schools would benefit from less standardized learning.
SUSMITHA SAYANA, Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Denton, TX
GERALD HU, Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Denton, TX
SANCHIT SACHDEVA, Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Denton, TX
PROJECT: Polymer Coatings for Extension of Service Life of Thermoelectric Materials and Devices
FIELD: Engineering
MENTOR: John White, Marlow Industry Inc. (Dallas, Texas)
Susmitha, Gerald and Sanchit used high temperature polymers to reduce the amount of thermal
degradation and oxidation of thermo-electric devices. The potential benefit of large-scale TEG device is
limited because of TE material degradation at high-application temperatures. They helped to fill this gap
by extending TEG devices’ service life by coating them with polymers that prevent thermal degradation.
SUSMITHA SAYANA
HOMETOWN: Allen, TX
“The aspect of math, science, and technology that appeals to me the most is
evolution and revolution of each respective field. STEM encompasses
subjects that are infinite in knowledge and discoveries.”
Susmitha is a research assistant at the Laboratory of Advanced Polymers
and Optimized Materials (LAPOM) at University of North Texas, a volunteer
at Austin Street Shelter, and an art club member. She also plays the viola
and speaks three languages.
GERALD HU
HOMETOWN: Plano, TX
“The atmosphere and general feel of working with a research team was
challenging, due to its novelty.”
Gerald is on the TAMS dean’s list, participates in theater, plays the oboe,
and speaks two languages. He said he was always interested in energy in its
various forms, and the intersection of heat and electricity was fascinating to
him.
SANCHIT SACHDEVA
HOMETOWN: Plano, TX
“Alternative energy is a very important area that needs to be explored. The
environment needs to be protected, and safe reproducible energy must be
used instead of fossil fuels.”
Sanchit is a National Merit semifinalist, has taken 11 advanced STEM
courses, plays chess and basketball, volunteers with Special Olympics, plays
the euphonium, and speaks three languages. He said frustration runs high
during research, but the feelings of success is unbelievable when you
accomplish something.
NAPASORN KUPRASERTKUL, Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Denton, TX
SUMEDHA MEHTA, Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Denton, TX
AKASH WADAWADIGI, Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Denton, TX
PROJECT: A Novel Methodology to Mimic Biological Properties using Ionic Liquids: An Extensive in
Silico Study
FIELD: Chemistry
MENTOR: Dr. William Acree Jr., University of North Texas (Denton, Texas) and Timothy Stephens,
University of North Texas (Denton, Texas)
Napasorn, Sumedha and Akash developed an in silico analytical approach that allows for identification of
ionic liquids that mimic the chemical properties of biological barriers in humans and animals. This
proposed mode of computational experimentation is pertinent to the pharmaceutical industry because
it allows for scientists to virtually assess a drug’s effect before it is ever used in animal testing.
NAPASORN KUPRASERTKUL
HOMETOWN: Keller, TX
“I like how any STEM field is driven by a quest for more knowledge and new
discoveries to be made. It is a dynamic and fast-paced field, always striving to
meet the demands for new technology or new solutions.”
Napasorn is a two-time Texas Math and Science State Champion, participates
in multiple tutoring programs, speaks two languages, is a children’s hospital
volunteer, and was a Science Olympiad state qualifier. She believes more
competitions that are varied and fun would encourage more students to
pursue math and science fields.
SUMEDHA MEHTA
HOMETOWN: Irving, TX
“I was fascinated by the ability of chemistry to provide the basis and explain all
the matter that surrounds us. It gives the answer to every question that can be
posed about the origin of the world to new materials that could be ideal for
prosthetics.”
Sumedha mentors high school students, tutors math and biology students
through Forward Tutoring, speaks three languages, and plays the piano and
guitar. She said she enjoys STEM for the ability to explain the workings of the
world.
AKASH WADAWADIGI
HOMETOWN: Flower Mound, TX
“My interests in chemical research with biomedical applications stemmed
from my childhood trips to India where I witnessed a lack of adequate
healthcare access.”
Akash is the CEO of a non-profit organization that provides potable water to
otherwise neglected areas, has taken several advanced and college level
STEM courses, and plays basketball. He believes STEM leverages powerful
technology to meet the growing needs of human life.
`