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Young researchers earn top science awards.

Young researchers earn top science awards

Emerging from a field of 1,431 entrants, 17-year-old Matthew Peter Headrick captured the first-place $20,000 college scholarship in the 49th annual Science Talent Search this week. For his research project, Headrick isolated a gene necessary for nitrogen fixation in a type of blue-green algae. A senior at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools H.S., Headrick believes his work will aid understanding of cellular differentiation -- which determines how the myriad different cells in the human body develop from a single fertilized cell.

David Ruchien Liu, a 16-year-old senior at Poly H.S. in Riverside, Calif., placed second in the competition, which is sponsored by the Westinghouse Electric Corp. and administered by Science Service, Inc. Liu, who received a $15,000 scholarship, developed two neural networks on a computer that simulate how human brains process visual information.

A $15,000 scholarship also went to third-place winner David Michael Shull, a 17-year-old from Henry Foss H.S. in Tacoma, Wash. Shull introduced DNA into fragile human white blood cells by using electric shocks to temporarily open the cell membranes. He says the engineered cells may help in the study of Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes.

The winners were picked from 40 finalists who visited Washington, D.C., for the last stage of the competition. During interviews with eight scientists, the students were judged on their creativity and scientific potential. The students also met with scientific researchers in the area. Vice President Quayle and members of Congress.

Scholarships of $10,000 each went to fourth-place winner Soojin Ryu of the Bronx H.S. of Science, who studied HLA Class I molecules that play a role in activating the human immune system; fifth-place winner, Joshua Bailey Fishman of Montgomery Blair H.S. in Silver Spring, Md., who examined mathematical expressions called p-adic continued fractions; and sixth-place winner, Royce Yung-Tze Peng of Rolling Hills H.S. in Rolling Hills, Calif., who explored the mathematical properties of two joined planar surfaces.

The committee also awarded scholarships of $7,500 to seventh-place winner Laura Andrea Ascenzi of the Bronx H.S. of Science, who completed a project on values and relations among family members and peers; eighth-place winner Andrew Matthew Lines of Yorktown H.S. in Arlington, Va., who programmed a computer to solve the minimal surface problem; ninth-place winner Mina Kim Yu of Thomas Jefferson H.S. for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., who determined the structure of complex chemicals using iodide reagents; and tenth-place winner, Bianca Denise Santomasso of Stuyvesant H.S. in New York City, who studied the spread of cancer cells. The remaining 30 finalists each won a $1,000 scholarship.
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Author:Monastersky, R.
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 10, 1990
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