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Russell Cowen
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2014 International Competition

Austin Area Students Win Awards at International Science Fair

Nine students, representing six "Best of Fair" science projects from the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival (AERSF), traveled to Los Angeles, CA last week to participate in the Intel International Science and Engineering fair (Intel ISEF).

Intel ISEF is the world's largest pre-collegiate science competition; more than 1,700 students from the US and 70 foreign countries or territories qualified to attend this year. The students competed in 17 science categories for 1st through 4th category places, as well over 45 Special Awards from universities, foundations, government agencies and professional associations.

Pia Sen, an 11th grader from the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA) in the Austin Independent School District, won an all-expenses trip to Italy in June for a one week science camp held by the Fondazione Bruno Kesssler (FBK), a leading research center in Trento, Italy. She was also awarded a four-year scholarship of $15,000 per year from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

Pia entered her project, A Novel Response to Antibiotic Resistance in vivo- AC Currents and Nanoparticles in Microbiology. She studied antibiotic-resistant bacteria that make it hard to treat certain diseases and illnesses. Pia used high frequency electricity patterns that don't affect human cells to lower bacterial resistance and move helpful microparticles (small metal compounds that are attached to antibiotics) into the bacteria in order to kill these resistant strains. This method is a very cheap and fast way to treat diseases in the human body and can potentially be used in third world countries unable to afford the expensive treatments currently used.

Piper Reid, a 12th grader from Dripping Springs High School in the Dripping Springs ISD, won a second place award with an $800 price from the American Association of Physics Teachers and the American Physical Society. She also placed fourth in the category of Physics and Astronomy with her project, Nova Delphini 2013: Backyard Analysis of a Classical Nova. 4th place category winners are awarded $500.

Using a backyard observatory with telescope, camera and spectrograph, Piper followed the development of the spectrum of the classical Nova in Delphinus starting just a few days after its original discovery in August 2013. Piper identified the elements created in the nova explosion and added her results to an international database for further use by both amateur and professional astronomers.

Lily Xu , an 11th grader from the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA) in the Austin Independent School District teamed up with two students she had met in math camp, last summer, Susan Xu from Kingwood by Houston and Caroline Gao from Plano. They entered their project in the category of Chemistry and won third price, with a cash award of $1,000.

Their project, On the Synthesis and Predictive Modeling of Stable Pigments Utilizing Silica Extracted from Rice Husk Biowastes, looked at alternative uses for rice husks. When brown rice is harvested, the husks are burned and emit green house gases. Lily, Susan and Caroline developed a method to reuse the husks to avoid these emissions. Silica is removed from the husks and used to create colored pigments for heat resistant paint.

Advaith Anand, a 12th grader also from LASA, entered his project, Optimizing Natural Gas Separation and the Haber-Bosch Process with Thermally Rearranged Polymers: Effects of Morphology and Chemical Structure on Free Volume and Transport Properties of HAB-6FDA Structures, in the category of Engineering: Materials & Bioengineering. Advaith explored and was able to improve understanding of the properties of a new material used to separate gases in processes such as the removal of carbon dioxide from natural gas and the production of ammonia.

Advaith won second place in his category; he will be awarded $1,500; in addition, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory will name a minor star after each 1st and 2nd place category winner– an honor shared with Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, Vincent van Gogh and the Beatles, among others.

Other students who attended Intel ISEF were Jessica Wang and Ying Liu, both 12th graders from LASA. The team designed a computer program that analyzes sets of DNA sequences and groups them according to certain characteristics, such as genetic diseases. Their project, Utilizing Homologous Simplicial Complexes to Model Genomic Data, competed in Cellular & Molecular Biology.

Chaarushena Deb, another 12th grader from LASA, entered her project Optimal Therapy Design for Pancreatic Cancer Using A Boolean Network-Based Simulation in Mathematical Sciences. Chaarushena created mathematical models to simulate different drug combinations and cell mutations, making it easier to treat pancreatic cancer.

Texas State Competition 2014

2014 State Fair (EMTSEF) Category Winners

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Austin Energy Regional Science Festival Awards

Austin Energy Regional Science Festival 2014 Awards

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