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Archive for May, 2010


Here are more details about our own Amy Chyao’s amazing accomplishment in the Intel Science fair for her work at UT Dallas.

NanoExplorer Wins Top Prize in Intel Science Fair

High School Student’s Work at UT Dallas Holds Promise for Cancer Research

May. 24, 2010

Research aimed at increasing the depths to which therapeutic light can penetrate the body and attack cancer cells has netted UT Dallas  NanoExplorer Amy Chyao the top prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in San Jose, Calif.

Chyao, a sophomore at Williams High School in Plano, Texas, won the competition’s Gordon E. Moore award.  The award is accompanied by a $75,000 prize, which Chyao one day hopes to apply toward medical school.

In the Media

CBS-11 TV: She May Be 16, But She’s Advancing Cancer Research

Fox Business News: Intel Inspiring Students to Study Science

More than 1,600 high school students from 59 countries around the world competed in 19 categories.  Each participant had to win at the local, regional, state and national levels to compete in the Intel competition.  Chyao was grilled for 10 hours by more than 40 judges during the event.

Leading up to her stunning showings in nearly half a dozen science fairs,  Chyao spent the summer between her freshman and sophomore year in the George A. Jeffrey NanoExplorer program.  She conducted research under the mentorship of Dr. Kenneth Balkus, professor of chemistry.  Founded by Dr. Ray Baughman, director of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute, the program hosts more than 30 high school students in labs across campus each summer.

“Last June, I joined the NanoExplorer program and found I was interested in projects in the Balkus Lab,” Chyao said.  “I looked into different projects and had to learn a lot about chemistry.”

Chyao created semiconducting nanoparticles that, when exposed to certain wavelengths of light, generate a highly reactive form of oxygen that proves deadly to cancer cells.  Once injected, the nanoparticles could travel through the bloodstream or stay localized in tumor sites.  Exposure to a targeted beam of light, like a laser, could catalyze the reaction specifically where the cancer cells are growing.

This photodynamic therapy, treating superficial skin cancers with light, is an established technique to treat skin cancers, but the particles developed by Chyao may allow targeted light therapy to penetrate even deeper into the body, creating the possibility of treating a wider variety of cancers beneath the skin.

“I’m so proud of Amy,” Balkus said.  “With her discoveries, we can possibly treat cancers that were previously inaccessible.  I’m delighted she’s returning to my lab this summer.”

Chyao joins a growing and impressive list of previous NanoExplorers who have published in major journals, won prestigious fellowships and placed highly in international competitions.

A new group of NanoExplorers will be joining UT Dallas in June to conduct research and possibly create discoveries like Chyao’s.

Chyao’s research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is part of the Balkus Lab’s overall effort to develop novel photocatalysts.

“I’ll be working in the Balkus Lab again as a researcher this summer,” Chyao said.  “I like it here.”

When not in the lab this summer, Chyao plans to complete Calculus II as part of an opportunity from the Office of the Provost that supports tuition and fees for a small number of students each year who have completed the mathematics courses available in public schools and community colleges.  The support gives students a head start on mathematics at the university level while they finish their remaining high school coursework.

In a letter to Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Education Cathie Alexander, Chyao’s father acknowledged the variety of opportunities his daughter has had to accelerate her education at UT Dallas.

“The UT Dallas outreach programs for high school students are the best for local students like Amy,” said Mr. Tim Chyao.  “Amy has benefited a great deal from programs like the Awesome Math summer camp, the Metroplex Math Circle, and especially the NanoExplorers.  We could not imagine all her achievements without the help from UT Dallas.”


Media Contact: Brandon V. Webb, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, Brandon.webb@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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A long term Metroplex Math Circle participant, Amy Chyao, is eligible for a people’s choice award for her submission to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Amy developed a novel photosensitizer for photodynamic therapy (PDT), an emerging cancer treatment which uses light energy to activate a drug that kills cancer cells. Amy’s results indicate that the photosensitizer successfully overcame several current obstacles faced in PDT, and shows significant potential for future application in cancer treatment.

Please go to the site and vote for Amy today!

Vote for my project

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The AMC just posted biographies for the top performers in the recent USAMO contest:

USA Mathematical Olympiad: 2010 USAMO Winners

May 19, 2010

This year, 329 outstanding high school students qualified for the 2010 USA Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO). On April 27-28, these students tackled a challenging, six-question exam, distributed via the Internet to their schools. The 12 winners are (in alphabetical order):

Timothy Chu (Lynbrook High School, San Jose, California): Timothy Chu is a senior at Lynbrook High School. Next year he will be going to Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a semifinalist for two years in the Physics Olympiad and a semifinalist for one year in the USA Biology Olympiad. He plays French Horn as second chair in his school’s state-renowned Wind Ensemble and is about to become an Eagle Scout.  He also played tennis for Lynbrook for two years. He enjoys playing Frisbee and climbing trees. He would like to give special thanks to Rita Korsunsky, school Math Club advisor, for all the hard work she does for the Math Club, and his mom for pushing him into MathCounts. He would also like to thank Jon Schneider, prior International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) team member from Canada and friend.

Calvin Deng (William G. Enloe High School, Cary, North Carolina): Calvin is currently a freshman at William G. Enloe High School. This year he qualified for U.S. Physics Olympiad Semi-Final, and last year he was a National MathCounts Quarter Finalist. During his spare time, he likes to play sports and video games. Calvin would like to thank his dad who opened the door to math and science for him.

Michael Druggan (Tates Creek High School, Lexington, Kentucky): Michael was a national competitor at MathCounts in 2007 and achieved “Gold” level in the USA Math Talent Search competition, 2009-2010.  His hobbies include logic puzzles, especially slitherlinks and kenkens, and he has been competing in gymnastics for several years.  He would like to thank his mom for getting him interested in math early on and for always being supportive of him competing in math competitions.

Brian Hamrick (Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Annandale, Virginia): Brian is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. He will be attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall. Outside of math, he enjoys computer science and was a member of the USA team for the International Olympiad in Informatics in 2008 and 2009, earning a silver and gold medal. He would like to thank the Thomas Jefferson Math Team, especially teacher Mrs. Gabriel and former co-captain Jacob Steinhardt for providing a great opportunity to learn contest math, as well as the great friends that he has met through the Olympiad programs who continue to make these experiences a lot of fun.

Travis Hance (Lakota West High School, West Chester, Ohio): Travis is graduating from Lakota West High School and will be attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology next fall. He has been competing in mathematics competitions since the ninth grade. Besides math, he also enjoys programming and computer science, and received a silver medal at the International Olympiad in Informatics last year. In his spare time he enjoys activities with friends such as Frisbee and playing board games.  He thanks his parents, Sandra and Darrell Hance, and his math teacher Mrs. Botzner for always encouraging his mathematical interests.

Xiaoyu He (Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Acton, Massachusetts): Xiaoyu is a sophomore at Acton-Boxborough Regional High. He enjoys math, computer programming and gaming, and, occasionally, art. When he is in the mood he will pull out a pencil and draw the first person he sees. He thanks his parents for introducing him to mathematics and for their continuing support.

Mitchell Lee (Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Annandale, Virginia): Mitchell is a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Besides competitive mathematics, his other interests include computer programming (USA Computer Olympiad summer camp 2010), swimming, and playing with his baby brother.  He also fancies himself a StarCraft power player.  He would like to recognize his family for its support, The Art of Problem Solving for being a phenomenal resource, and Brian Hamrick for all his great lectures.

In Sung Na (Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan, Old Tappan, New Jersey): In Sung is a junior at Northern Valley Regional High School. Apart from USAMO, he will be participating in the International Linguistics Olympiad this year along with fellow winner Allen Yuan. He enjoys running around, swimming, sleeping, and reading all kinds of books. He thanks his math teacher, Arpi Lajinian, for helping to organize his school’s math contests, the AAST math team and its coaches, Dr. Mayers, Dr. Abramson, and the late Mr. Joe Holbrook, for providing precious math opportunities, along with his friend Timothy Chu and former IMO team member Delong Meng for spreading their contagious love for math.

Evan O’Dorney: Evan is homeschooled through Venture School in California. He takes math classes at University of California, Berkeley.  Among his numerous honors are Scripps National Spelling Bee champion (2007), Bay Area Math Olympiad grand prize (2007, 2009, 2010), USAMO winner (2008), IMO silver medalist (2008, 2009), and Intel International Science and Engineering Fair finalist (2010). He enjoys improvising and composing piano music. Professor Zvezda Stankova, director of the Berkeley Math Circle, has played a vital role in his mathematical development introducing Evan to renowned mathematicians and offering invaluable mentorship.

Toan Duc Phan (Taft School, Watertown, Connecticut): Toan is currently a senior at The Taft School. He will be attending Harvard University next fall. In addition to winning USAMO this year, he was a USAMO winner last year, and a member of the US team at the 2009 Romanian Master in Mathematics. Toan also received an Honorable Mention in the 2009 Asian-Pacific Math Olympiad. When he is not doing math, he likes debating, playing sports, or simply socializing with friends.  His favorite sports are ping pong and soccer.

Hunter Spink (Western Canada High School, Calgary, Alberta, Canada): Hunter Spink is a junior at Western Canada High School. In addition to Provincial and National awards, Hunter won a silver medal at the 2009 International Mathematical Olympiad and will be part of the 2010 Canadian IMO team. His other interests include piano, skiing, computing, and girls. He credits reading books on mathematics and his discussions with Dr. Richard Guy at the University of Calgary as his sources of inspiration.

Allen Yuan (Detroit Country Day School, Farmington, Michigan): Allen is a junior at Detroit Country Day School. He was a USA team member in the 2009 Romanian Master in Mathematics and the 2009 U.S. Physics Team, and he will be going to the International Linguistics Olympiad this summer.  He is also interested in piano performance, in which he competes at local to international levels.  He thanks his parents and all the teachers, coaches, and students who motivated him to work harder on math throughout middle and high school.

An awards ceremony for the 12 USAMO winners will be held in Washington, D.C. at both the MAA Headquarters and the U.S. Department of State building on Monday, June 7.

The USAMO is the pinnacle event in the sequence of increasingly challenging mathematical contests administered by the MAA’s American Mathematics Competitions program. More than 220,000 worldwide took the first contest (AMC 10 and/or AMC 12). More than 10,000 were invited to compete in the second contest (AIME), and just 329 of these participants made it to the highly selective and prestigious USAMO.

For more information on the USAMO and MAA’s American Mathematics Competitions (AMC), click here. AMC announced a new contest this year, the USA Junior Mathematical Olympiad, for students in 10th grade and below. This year, 237 students qualified for the USAJMO. The top scorers are listed here.

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We are always impressed by the turn out and the enthusiasm for the spring math competition sponsored by the Chinese Institute of Engineers.   This year the contest will be held on June 5th at Collin College (2800 E Spring Creek Parkway, Plano, TX 75974).  Here is the description from the CIE web site.

The annual MathComp is a very popular math competition, providing young students of grade 1-7 the opportunity to demonstrate their math problem solving skills. MathFun is an interactive program allowing parent/children to work together in solving math quizzes and games which stimulate the students’ interest in mathematics. Students from 1st to 7th grade in the spring semester of 2010 are invited to register for the competition and enjoy the fun. Registration is now open through May 26, 2010.

This year should be particularly good as they have asked our own Dr. Titu Andreescu to be their keynote speaker. 

In order to register your students please click here.

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