Three Indian American teenagers were among the top 10 winners of America’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition, the Intel Science Talent Search, a program of the Society for Science & the Public.
The Indian Americans were among a total of 40 finalists who vied for the top prize of $100,000, which went to Eric Larson, 17, of Eugene, Oregon, for his research project classifying mathematical objects called fusion categories. Larson’s work describes these in certain dimensions for the first time.
The top Indian American in the list was Narendra Tallapragada, 17, of Burke, Virginia, who was declared fourth in the competition. He received a $25,000 scholarship for his project to find ways to simplify complex models of atomic and molecular interactions. His goal is to create ‘mini-computers’ that can be used, for instance, to create automatic insulin pumps inside diabetic patients or intelligent clothing that responds to temperature.
Preya Shah, 17, of Setauket, New York, came eighth and was the recipient of a $20,000 scholarship for designing and synthesizing a tumor-targeting drug for cancer treatment that represents a new approach to delivery of chemotherapy agents and possibly treatment of multi-drug resistant cancer without causing significant side effects.
Nilesh Tripuraneni, 18, of Fresno, California, received a $20,000 scholarship for formulating a set of hydrodynamic equations that may provide a method to understand the first movements of the universe and aid in the development of a quantum theory of gravity. He was ranked ninth.
There were a total of eight Indian-origin teenage scientists among the 40 finalists, the most for any community. In all, an astounding 22 of the finalists were of Asian origin.
William Sun, 17, of Chesterfield, Missouri, came in second and received a $75,000 scholarship for his biochemistry project that studied the effects of a recently discovered molecule that could treat bacterial infections or prevent neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Philip Streich, 18, of Platteville, Wisconsin, came third and received a $50,000 scholarship for his chemistry project on carbon nanotubes that may lead to the development of ultra-fast nano-electronics.