NOTRE DAME, Ind., Nov. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Months of dedication and hard work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) paid off tonight for three students named National Finalists in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, the nation's premier research competition for high school students. Arman Bilge of Lexington, Mass. earned the top honors and a $3,000 individual scholarship for groundbreaking research on coevolutionary histories of symbiotic organisms, developing a computer algorithm that may provide further insight into the study of animal to human transmissions of diseases, such as influenza and HIV. Noah Golowich of Lexington, Mass. and Kavish Gandhi of Newton, Mass. earned top honors and the $6,000 team scholarship for their research on Ramsey theory, developing novel solutions for an active, complex branch of mathematics.
The students presented their research this weekend to a panel of judges from the University of Notre Dame, host of the Region Three Finals. They are now invited to present their work on a national stage at the National Finals in Washington, D.C., December 7-10, 2013, where $500,000 in scholarships will be awarded, including two top prizes of $100,000. The Siemens Competition, a signature program of the Siemens Foundation, is administered by the College Board.
"Congratulations to the winners of the Siemens Competition Regional Finals for their remarkable research in STEM," said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, president of the Siemens Foundation. "I commend these scholars for their innovative and creative projects and look forward to seeing them contend for the top prizes at the National Finals next month."
The Winning Individual
Arman Bilge, a senior at Lexington High School in Lexington, Mass., won the individual category and a $3,000 college scholarship for his project, titled Bayesian Reconstruction of Coevolutionary Histories.
For his research project, Arman developed a computer algorithm that investigates and reconstructs the linked evolutionary histories of symbiotic organisms. His novel methodology can provide improved, in-depth understandings of disease transmissions and overall biodiversity.
"We were blown away by Arman's level of expertise and genuine enthusiasm in his fields of work. He has an extensive grasp of both biology and applied mathematics," said competition judge Dr. Holly Goodson, associate professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame. "Very few scientists possess such breadth and depth of knowledge in a multitude of fields, but Arman has managed to combine his talents to provide new, interdisciplinary insights for fundamental questions in evolutionary biology. With Arman already producing Ph.D-level work, we have no doubt that he will continue to make impressive contributions with his research."
Arman is currently associated with Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), the largest collection of integrated advanced digital resources and services in the world, used by scientists to interactively share computing resources, data, and expertise. By using the database to run analyses on the CIPRES Science Gateway, Arman's work was subsequently featured on the homepage of the National Science Foundation. He also leads the computational biology club at his high school and volunteers at the school's Learning Center, where he tutors students in math and science. Arman is also president of the photography club and an accomplished violinist. He aspires to be a professor and principal investigator of a computational evolutionary biology group.
Arman's project mentors were Yi-Chieh Jessica Wu, research assistant and graduate student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rachel Sealfon, graduate student, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and Mukul Bansal, assistant professor, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Connecticut.
The Winning Team
Noah Golowich, junior at Lexington High School in Lexington, Mass. and Kavish Gandhi, junior at Newton North High School in Newton, Mass., won the team category and a shared scholarship of $6,000 for their project, titled Partition Regularity of Linear Homogeneous Equations and Inequalities.
In their research, Noah and Kavish studied an area of Ramsey theory, a field of mathematics that deals with large systems and structure, which has applications in theoretical computer science and game theory. Their specific area of research involves partition regularity and provides novel solutions for equations that have previously been solved in a trivial way.
"Noah and Kavish studied a fundamental problem in mathematics and provided new and creative insights," said competition judge Dr. David Galvin, associate professor, Department of Mathematics, University of Notre Dame. "We were so impressed by the mathematical maturity of these young scholars that have already produced Ph.D-level research. Partition regularity was first introduced in 1933, and they are shedding light on a mathematical question that has not been completely solved after more than 80 years."
Noah is math team captain at his high school, allowing him to assist and give lectures to his teammates. He participates in various community service activities through his membership in the National Honors Society, has received awards for his performance on national French and Spanish exams, and competes on his school's tennis team. He plans to pursue a career in mathematics or science.
Kavish has participated in numerous mathematics competitions and is a three-time participant in the annual North American Envirothon competition, winning second place out of 5,000 competing teams in 2012. Kavish is interested in pursuing a career in mathematics, software engineering, economics or theoretical physics.
Their project mentor was Laszlo Miklos Lovasz, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The remaining regional finalists each received a $1,000 scholarship.
Regional Finalists in the individual category were:
- Jeffrey Cai, Ridge High School, Basking Ridge, N.J.
- Amy Cohn, Park Tudor School, Bloomington, Ind.
- Claire Drysdale, Breck School, Golden Valley, Minn.
- Claudia Huang, Carmel High School, Carmel, Ind.
Team Regional Finalists were:
- Yihang Hong, Troy High School, Troy, Mich.; Xinchu Tian, Troy High School, Troy, Mich.; and David Wu, Troy High School, Troy, Mich.
- Aditya Mukundan, Troy High School, Troy, Mich.; and Neha Bidthanapally, Troy High School, Troy, Mich.
- Frank Wang, Troy High School, Troy, Mich.; and Jordan Zhu, Troy High School, Troy, Mich.
- Talia Weiss, Evanston Township High School, Evanston, Ill.; and Taylor Sims, Evanston Township High School, Evanston, Ill.
The Siemens Competition
Launched in 1998, the Siemens Competition is the nation's premier science research competition for high school students. A record 2,440 students registered for this year's competition and a total of 1,599 projects were submitted for consideration. Three hundred thirty-one students were named Semifinalists and 100 were named Regional Finalists. Entries are judged at the regional level by esteemed scientists at six leading research universities which host the regional competitions: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Notre Dame and The University of Texas at Austin.
For news and announcements about the Regional Competitions and the National Finals, follow us on Twitter @SFoundation (#SiemensComp) and like us on Facebook at Siemens Foundation. A live webcast of the National Finalist Awards Presentation will also be available online at 9:30am EST on December 10: www.siemens-foundation.org.
The Siemens Foundation
The Siemens Foundation provides more than $7 million annually in support of educational initiatives in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the United States. Its signature programs include the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, a STEM research competition for high school students, Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, a sustainability challenge which encourages K-12 students to develop innovative green solutions for environmental issues and the Siemens STEM Academy, a national educator professional development program designed to support educators in their efforts to foster student achievement in STEM fields. By supporting outstanding students and educators today, and recognizing the mentors and schools that inspire STEM educational excellence, the Foundation helps nurture tomorrow's scientists and engineers. The Foundation's mission is based on the culture of innovation, research and educational support that is the hallmark of Siemens' U.S. companies. For further information, visit www.siemens-foundation.org or follow @SFoundation.
The College Board
The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of more than 6,000 of the world's leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools. For further information, visit www.collegeboard.org.
Video and photos of winners available on request.
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