Two Indian-American students today made it to the top 10 of the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search awards, bagging a prize of USD 20,000 each. Anand Srinivasan of Georgia bagged the eighth position while Shaun Datta from Maryland took the last 10th spot in the awards.
Eric S Chen, 17, of San Diego won the top award of USD 100,000 from the Intel Foundation for his research of potential new drugs to treat influenza.
His interdisciplinary approach combined computer modelling with structural studies and biological validation, while focusing on drugs that inhibit endonuclease, an enzyme essential for viral propagation.
Eric, the co-president of his school’s fencing team and a junior Olympics qualifier, hopes his work will lead to a new class of drugs to control flu outbreaks during a pandemic, allowing time f or a vaccine to be developed.
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Second-place honours and USD 75,000 went to Kevin Lee, 17, of California, who developed a mathematical model to describe the shape of the heart as it beats using the principles of fluid mechanics.
Kevin’s faster and computationally efficient model could provide insights into arrhythmia and may lead to better treatments for the disease.
Third-place honours and USD 50,000 went to William Henry Kuszmaul, 17, of Massachusetts, who developed a new approach to the mathematics of modular enumeration, which has applications to a wide number of problems in computer science, bioinformatics and computational biology.
Srinivasan received a USD 20,000 award for his neural- network-based computer model, RNNScan, which “learns” patterns in DNA to predict the boundaries of certain genomic regions.
Datta also received a USD 20,000 award for his research that used computer models and equations to improve the understanding of the interactions of nuclear matter.
“We at Intel celebrate the work of these brilliant young scientists as a way to inspire the next generation to follow them with even greater energy and excitement into a life of invention and discovery,” Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation, said.
“Imagine the new technologies, solutions and devices they will bring to bear on the challenges we face. The Intel Science Talent Search finalists should inspire all of us with hope for the future,” Hawkins said.