Genetics and Mathematics Research Win Top Honors in Siemens Westinghouse Competition
Michael Viscardi of San Diego, California is Individual Winner of $100,000
Grand Prize; Anne Lee of Paradise Valley, AZ, and Albert Shieh of Scottsdale,
AZ, Win $100,000 Team Prize
NEW YORK, N.Y., Dec. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Genetics and mathematics research won top honors for Michael Viscardi and the team of Anne Lee and Albert Shieh in the 2005-06 Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology, the nation's premier high school science competition. The Siemens Westinghouse Competition, a signature program of the Siemens Foundation, is administered by the College Board. The winners were announced this morning at New York University, host of the 2005-06 Siemens Westinghouse Competition National Finals. Michael Viscardi, a senior who is home schooled, won the $100,000 Grand Prize scholarship in the individual category for mathematics research with real-world engineering implications. Anne Lee, a senior at Phoenix Country Day School in Paradise Valley, Arizona, and Albert Shieh, a junior at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, won the $100,000 prize in the team category, which they will share equally, for developing new software that more accurately analyzes genetic data. The winners will ring The Closing Bell(TM) at the New York Stock Exchange today, December 5. "These students have done magnificent work that any researcher would be proud of," said Thomas N. McCausland, chairman of the board of the Siemens Foundation. "The fact that they are still in high school makes their achievement all the more remarkable. Imagine what these young scholars will accomplish as adults." The national finals were judged by a panel of prominent scientists and mathematicians headed by lead judge Dr. Constance Atwell, consultant and former Director for Extramural Research, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at The National Institutes of Health. "On behalf of all the judges, I congratulate these outstanding young scientists and mathematicians on reaching the highest level of achievement in this extremely challenging competition," said Dr. Atwell. Nineteen students competed in the National Finals, including six individuals and six teams. The national finalists previously competed in a series of regional competitions held at six leading research universities over three consecutive weekends in November. The Winning Projects Michael Viscardi's project, entitled On the Solution of the Dirichlet Problem with Rational Boundary Data, develops exciting new approaches to a mathematical problem first formulated in the 19th century by the French mathematician, Lejeune Dirichlet. His research, in an area of mathematics called complex analysis, shows solutions to the Dirichlet problem which are, in many important cases, what mathematicians call "rational functions". Elegant, simple and useful, "rational functions" are particularly amenable to computer implementation. His mentor on the project was Professor Peter Ebenfelt, Department of Mathematics, University of California, San Diego. "Mr. Viscardi dazzled us with his creative use of the mathematical language," said judge, Dr. Steven Krantz, Professor of Mathematics at Washington University in St. Louis. "His research is profound, substantial and complete, with potentially important practical applications in heat flow, magnetism, electrodynamics and other branches of physics. One important and exciting potential application of his work is in designing the shape of airplane wings." In addition to being a talented mathematician, Mr. Viscardi is also an accomplished pianist and violinist, as well as a composer. He is concertmaster of the San Diego Youth Symphony and San Diego Youth Symphony Philharmonia, as well as first violinist of the San Diego Youth Symphony String Quartet. Mr. Viscardi plans to study mathematics and music in college and aspires to be a math professor and concert pianist/violinist/composer. Anne Lee and Albert Shieh won the team prize for developing an improved software package that analyzes genetic data. The team developed their project, SNiPer: Improved SNP Genotype Calling for Affymetrix 10K GeneChip Microarray Data, while interning at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, where their mentors were Dietrich Stephan, David Craig and Matt Huentelman. In the process of helping with lab work and data analysis, the students identified an opportunity to improve on a commercially developed software package designed to analyze high volume genetic data. They developed improved genetic analysis software -- which their genomics lab now uses -- that enables more accurate and efficient identification of the genes underlying inherited disorders in humans. The team then used their software to pinpoint the mutated gene that causes a childhood degenerative disorder. "This team demonstrated exceptional teamwork," said Dr. Victor Ambros, Professor of Genetics at Dartmouth Medical School. "They were extremely resourceful in developing a new computational tool and then using it in the analysis of real families with real diseases." The students' research was published in the October 31, 2005, issue of the prestigious genetics journal, BMC Genomics. Ms. Lee enjoys acting and reading in her free time. In addition to her schoolwork, she participates in the National Charity League and a peer tutoring program. She plans to major in biology and aspires to a career as a science researcher. Mr. Shieh enjoys photography and chess, and is an active member of InterAct and the Youth Corps at his high school. He plans to major in computer science and aspires to be an intellectual property lawyer, combining his dual interests in computers and policy debate. The other national winners of the 2005-06 Siemens Westinghouse Competition were: Individuals * $50,000 scholarship -- Kiran Pendri, Wallingford, Connecticut * $40,000 scholarship -- Adam Solomon, Bellmore, New York * $30,000 scholarship -- Desh Mohan, Denton, Texas * $20,000 scholarship -- Luyi Zhao, Manchester, Missouri * $10,000 scholarship -- Xue Feng, Nashville, Tennessee Teams * $50,000 scholarship -- Benjamin Pollack and Abhinav Khanna, Plainview, New York * $40,000 scholarship -- Huy Nguyen and Gerald Tiu, Fullerton, California * $30,000 scholarship -- Patricia M. Brent, Nick Grabenstein and Tarik Umar, Oak Ridge, Tennessee * $20,000 scholarship -- Amardeep Grewal, Beverly Hills, Michigan and Ran Li, Valley Stream, New York * $10,000 scholarship -- Jennifer Ding, Rochester Hills, Michigan and Ang Li, Troy, Michigan The Siemens Westinghouse Competition The Siemens Westinghouse Competition was launched in 1998 to recognize America's best and brightest students in math, science and technology. This year, 1,684 students entered the competition, a 13% increase over the previous year. Entries are judged at the regional level by esteemed scientists at six leading research universities which host the regional competitions: Carnegie Mellon University (Middle States), University of Notre Dame (Midwest), University of California, Berkeley (West), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (New England), Georgia Institute of Technology (South), and The University of Texas at Austin (Southwest). The Siemens Foundation Established in 1998, the Siemens Foundation provides nearly $2 million in college scholarships and awards each year for talented high school students in the United States. Based in Iselin, New Jersey, the Foundation's signature programs -- the Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science & Technology, the Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement, and the Siemens Teacher Scholarships -- recognize exceptional achievement in science, math and technology. By supporting outstanding students today, and recognizing the teachers and schools that inspire their 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. operating companies and its parent company, Siemens AG. For more information, visit http://www.siemens-foundation.org .
SOURCE The Siemens Foundation
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