Every year since 1942, the Society for Science & the Public, a nonprofit promoting science education, has invited high school seniors to submit original research to a jury of prestigious scientists, engineers and mathematicians.
Entrants to the competition, now called the Intel Science Talent Search, are some of the “most promising young scientists in the U.S. who are creating the technologies and solutions that will positively impact people’s lives,” according to the contest’s website. The finalists—tomorrow’s innovators—often go on to nab Fields Medals, MacArthur grants and Nobel Prizes.
In total, 1,794 students from 489 high schools entered this year’s competition. The judging panel then selected the cream of the crop, literally the top 2 percent. These 40 finalists—15 females and 25 males hailing from 14 states—came to Washington, D.C., this past week to present their work and vie for a $100,000 grand prize.
Last night, Intel announced the top winner and the nine esteemed runners-up.
1st Place: Eric S. Chen, 17, of San Diego
Eric Chen, a senior at Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego, was awarded $100,000 for his microbiology research, which targets possible medicines for treating the flu. He leaned on both computer modeling and biology to find drugs that are inhibitors of endonuclease, an enzyme that allows viruses to spread to pandemic proportions. Chen has his sights set on a career as either a professor or a tech entrepreneur.