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
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
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
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
* $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
* $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
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