On March 16, 2010, Intel announced the top ten winners of the 2010 Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS) at a black-tie gala in Washington, D.C. Selected from 40 finalists, these high school seniors presented original research projects to esteemed judges and showcased their work at the National Academy of Sciences.
Erika DeBenedictis, First Place, $100,000
According to the Interplanetary Superhighway concept, the gravity and movement of planets create a network of low-energy orbits which may be viable as efficient transit routes throughout the solar system. For her project, Erika DeBenedictis developed a software navigation system - based on an original optimizing search algorithm - that may help autonomous spacecraft better navigate these pathways.
Erika, a senior at Albuquerque Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was a 2009 Davidson Fellow and first-place award winner in the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge. The 18-year-old is also an accomplished pianist and vocalist, and hopes to attend Caltech or MIT.
David Liu, Second Place, $75,000
To make the effort of organizing his family's photo collection less time-consuming, David Liu created software capable of automatically searching through digital images and grouping those that were conceptually similar. Realizing that his interactive image exploration system might have applications in fields such as security, David obtained aerial photos of buried pipelines from NASA and used his software to identify potential hazards, achieving a 96 percent recognition rate. As a result, the technology holds promise as a real-time means of monitoring and safeguarding pipelines and other valuable resources.
David, 18, is co-president of the robotics team and founder of the computer club at Lynbrook High School in San Jose, California. He also enjoys piano, tennis, and Web development, and hopes to study computer science at Stanford or MIT.
Akhil Mathew, Third Place, $50,000
Akhil Mathew combined algebraic geometry, representation theory, and category theory in his work on Deligne categories of complex rank. Through his work, he was able to show that, under certain finiteness assumptions, important properties of these categories are determined by constructible sets. He then showed that these properties hold generically if they hold on a sufficiently large set of parameters.
Akhil, 18, is a tutor in chemistry, math, and French at Madison High School in Madison, New Jersey, where he is also active in the chess club. Additionally, Akhil was a Davidson Fellow Laureate in 2008 and is currently the moderator of an online math forum run by Johns Hopkins University. Akhil hopes to continue his studies at Harvard or MIT.
Rounding out the top ten winners:
Lynelle Ye, Fourth Place, $40,000 Scholarship
Lynelle Ye, 18, of Palo Alto, California, analyzed winning strategies for a game called "Graph Chomp." Her research addresses both graph theory and game theory, and may have applications in the fields of technology and economics.
Eric Brooks, Fifth Place $30,000 Scholarship
Eric Brooks, 16, of Hewlett, New York, studied the racial genetic factors affecting the metastatic potential of prostate cancer. This may help scientists determine whether or not to submit patients to uncomfortable treatments early on.
John Capodilupo, Sixth Place, $25,000 Scholarship
John Capodilupo, 18, of Grand Rapids Michigan, computed detailed statistics on the clustering of galaxies. His work may shed light on the structure and evolution of the universe.
Benjamen Sun, Seventh Place, $25,000 Scholarship
Benjamen Sun, 17, of Grand Forks, North Dakota, looked at how dirt and debris in the street interact with rainwater, and how that affects water quality. The study may be instrumental in shaping environmental policy regarding the collection and disposal of street solids.
Katherine Rudolph, Eighth Place, $20,000 Scholarship
Katherine Rudolph, 18, of Naperville, Illinois, studied how densely identical spheres can be packed together. This research is of interest to chemists studying super-cooled matter and cryptologists searching for error-correcting computer codes.
Yale Fan, Ninth Place, $20,000 Scholarship
Yale Fan, 18, of Beaverton, Oregon, demonstrated the power of quantum computing in solving challenging "NP-complete" (NPC) problems. His work may offer scientists another tool for exploring theoretical physics.
Linda Zhou, Tenth Place, $20,000 Scholarship
Linda Zhou, 18, of River Edge, New Jersey, examined the relationship between a gene that codes for a protein called hTERT and drug resistance in breast cancer. Her findings - that silencing the hTERT gene could reverse drug resistance and help prevent metastasis - suggest a possible new treatment for the disease.
The remaining 30 finalists each received at least $7,500 in awards.