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Top STS winners chosen.

Top STS winners chosen

A shared standard of excellence won scholarships this week for high school students in the 47th annual Westinghouse Science Talent Search (STS), but their winning research projects and personal motivations showed pure individuality. It was a summer course two years ago, for example, that fueled first-place winner Chetan Nayak's passion for physics and led to his mathematical analysis of the interaction between electromagnetic and gravitational fields. Because there were unanswered questions in the scientific literature about the theory linking the two types of forces, Nayak developed a version of the theory that he says might allow quantum-level measurements of the field interactions. A senior at Stuyvesant H.S. in New York City, Nayak won a $20,000 scholarship.

Janet Tseng won second place with her study of an opportunistic infection called cryptosporidiosis, a cause of chronic diarrhea in AIDS patients. Born in Taiwan, Tseng is also a senior at Stuyvesant. Using a fluorescent assay, she studied patients' antibody profiles at different stages of Cryptosporidium infection, finding that AIDS patients lack a specific antibody response. Tseng, who did her research during summers and after school at St. Vincent's Hospital, became interested in AIDS research after reading a magazine article on AIDS and the immune system.

Third place went to a molecular genetics project by Benjamin S. Abella from University of Chicago Laboratory Schools H.S. Using facilities at the university's Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, Abella located several genes in the nitrogen-fixing bacterium Rhodobacter capsulata that are involved in the synthesis of proteins needed for nitrogen fixation. Tseng and Abella each won $15,000 scholarships.

Other awards announced this week include $10,000 scholarships to fourth-place winner Vijay S. Pande of Langley H.S. in McLean, Va., for his computer simulation of a space-based laser ballistic missile defense; fifth-place winner Brian D. Conrad of Centereach (N.Y.) H.S. for his own mathematical concept of "inverted continued fractions"; and sixth-place winner Weiva Y. Sieh of the Bronx (N.Y.) H.S. of Science, who demonstrated areas of decreased brain activity as a result of chronic treatment with the drug naltrexone.

The remainder of the top 10 winners each received $7,500 scholarships. They are, in descending order: Stacey E. Beaulieu of Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) H.S., Kurt M. Cuffey of State College (Pa.) Area Senior H.S., Brian C. Hooker of Benjamin E. Mays H.S. in Atlanta, and Meredith A. Albrecht of Evanston (Ill.) Township H.S. Beaulieu showed that a xanthan-gum coat on bacteria causing canker diseases in plants accelerates the disease process. A study of glaciers and valley shape and size in Montana's Glacier National Park won Cuffey his award. Hooker won with his portable carbon monoxide detector, while Albrecht's winning project looked at heat distribution in materials made of epoxy and copper particles.

The other 30 national finalists each received $1,000. Chosen as first and second alternates to the winners were Meivile Chen of Stuyvesant and Scott D. Zucker of South Plantation (Fla.) H.S. Sponsored by Westinghouse Electric Corp., the competition is conducted by Science Service, Inc.

During the awards ceremony, the 40 finalists were urged to keep the promises their talents imply, by excelling in their chosen professions. Principal speaker Purnell W. Choppin, president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, said the public "should be cheered by the fact there are so many [young people] interested in science." In a videotaped message, President Reagan told the young scientists that, as today's students, they symbolize the future and are part of "America's most valuable asset." Since 1942, five STS finalists have gone on to win Nobel Prizes.
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Title Annotation:Science Talent Search
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 5, 1988
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