Posts Tagged ‘Intel Science Fair’

Evan O’Dorney, an active participant in the Berkeley Math Circle was the $100,000 winner of this year’s Intel Science Talent Search.  He joins last years’ winner, Amy Chyao, in continuing the connection between math circles and this prestigious contest.

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 15, 2011 – Honoring high school seniors with exceptional promise in math and science, Intel Corporation and Society for Science & the Public (SSP) today announced the winners of America’s most elite and demanding high school research competition, the Intel Science Talent Search.

Evan O’Dorney, 17, of Danville, Calif., won the top award of $100,000 from the Intel Foundation for his mathematical project in which he compared two ways to estimate the square root of an integer. Evan discovered precisely when the faster way would work. As a byproduct of Evan’s research he solved other equations useful for encrypting data. This furthered an interest he developed as early as age 2, when he was checking math textbooks out of the library.


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Amy Chyao was also recently interviewed by D Magazine.

How a Plano Student Uses Light to Fight Cancer

Amy Chyao is a self-taught chemistry superstar and certifiable genius. But it’s not a big deal.

Q: In May, you won the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair with a project titled “Lights, Quantum Dots, Action!” Can you explain the project in a way that even I will understand?

A: It’s really not that complicated, in essence. It’s for a cancer treatment. Chemotherapy attacks healthy cells. And surgery can cause infections. So the good thing about this treatment, photodynamic therapy, or PDT, is that it doesn’t have either of these problems. The only real reason that we don’t use it today is because it’s activated by light, and it’s hard to penetrate deeper into the skin to reach the deeper tumors. What we were working on was making a drug that will allow us to reach deeper tumors with PDT. It’s an existing treatment. We’re just trying to design a new drug that will help it be even better.


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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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