ATLANTA, Nov. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Months of dedication and hard work in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) paid off for four students named National Finalists in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, the nation's premier research competition for high school students. Gerald Meixiong of Evans, Ga., earned the top honors and a $3,000 individual scholarship for groundbreaking research on mitosis and potential targets for the development of therapeutic drugs for cancers. David Lu of Richmond, Va. and Allen Lee and Jason Lee of Short Hills, N.J. earned a $6,000 team scholarship for their research on a rationale-based design of a targeted therapy for prostate cancer.
The students presented their research this weekend to a panel of judges from Georgia Institute of Technology, host of the Region Six Finals. They are now invited to present their work 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
Gerald Meixiong, a senior at Lakeside High School in Evans, Ga., won the individual category and a $3,000 college scholarship for his project, titled Cell-Cycle Regulated Membrane Association of NuMA: A Novel Pathway for Efficient Chromosome Segregation.
In his research, Gerald focused on mitosis, the process by which cells divide and sustain life. By studying how and why chromosomes are pulled towards opposite ends, Gerald discovered a novel mechanism for efficient chromosome segregation. His project provides new insight into molecular mechanisms of faithful duplication of DNA in mitosis and identifies potential targets for the development of therapeutic drugs for cancers.
"We were extremely impressed by Gerald's exceptional talent and his unprecedented level of knowledge. His research would be the envy of any graduate level student and beyond," said competition judge Dr. J.C. Gumbart, Assistant Professor, School of Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology. "The possibilities that may result from Gerald's discoveries are boundless. This research can effectively be applied to decelerating cell division in various cancers, but also has potential applications in other research for human health and disease control."
Inspired by his brother's performance in the 2008 Siemens Competition National Finals, Gerald decided to pursue his own research in biochemistry. He plans to major in biomedical engineering in college with the goal to continue his discoveries and become a research professor. Gerald is also a Georgia State Science Olympiad Fermi Questions State Champion and team member of the Georgia American Regions Mathematics League. A competitive swimmer since the age of five, Gerald was chosen as the 2013-2014 Central Savannah River Area Swimming and Diving Male Athlete of the Year. In his spare time, he volunteers as a Junior Volunteer at the University Hospital in Evans, Ga., where he serves as a clerk and assists nurses with cancer patients. Gerald's project mentor was Dr. Quansheng Du, Associate Professor, Georgia Regents.
The Winning Team
David Lu, sophomore at Mills E. Godwin High School in Henrico, Va., and brothers Allen and Jason Lee, sophomores at Millburn High School in Millburn, N.J., won the team category and a shared scholarship of $6,000 for their project, titled Rationale-based design of a targeted therapy for prostate cancer with SPOP mutations.
For their project, David, Allen and Jason examined the mechanisms of prostate cancer, one of the leading types of cancer in males. By probing the human genome database and conducting numerous PubMed searches, they discovered which genome sequence was most important in prostate cancer. As a result of their research, they identified a mechanism for treating prostate cancer with special mutations, which can be used to discover new methods of treatment.
"Discovering potential treatments for one of the most increasingly prevalent types of cancer is an incredible achievement for a scientist of any age, and is extremely remarkable for a group of high school sophomores," said competition judge Dr. Yuhong Fan, Associate Professor, School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology. "Their teamwork, motivation and extensive comprehension of every aspect of their project was incredibly impressive," added judge Dr. Raquel Lieberman, Associate Professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology.
David was a 2012 Siemens Regional Finalist and 2013 Virginia Junior Academy of Science Fair 3rd Place Winner. At school, David serves as a youth group officer and member of the tennis team. He hopes to pursue a career in the field of science as a doctor or engineer.
Allen was also a Regional Finalist in the 2012 Siemens Competition. He is a member of the debate team and plays the piano. After college, Allen aspires to become a biochemist.
Jason competes as a member of the Science Olympiad team, volunteers at his local church, and plays competitive chess and tennis. Jason's fascination with technology and computer science has inspired him to pursue a career related to bioinformatics.
David, Allen and Jason's project mentor was Dr. Jason Chen, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University.
The remaining Regional Finalists each received a $1,000 scholarship. Regional Finalists in the individual category were:
- Tian-Shun Jiang, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Durham, N.C.
- Margaret Tian, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Durham, N.C.
- Maxwell Tucker, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Durham, N.C.
- Max Zhan, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Lexington, Ky.
Team Regional Finalists were:
- Sandy Cho, McLean High School, McLean, Va.; and Timothy Cha, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Va.
- Sanjay Kannan, Raleigh Charter High School, Raleigh, N.C.; Elish Mahajan, Raleigh Charter High School, Raleigh, N.C.; Andrew Zhou, Raleigh Charter High School, Raleigh, N.C.
- Ben Wang, Oakton High School, Vienna, Va.; Oliver Shi, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Va.; Kevin Wan, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Va.
- Jessica Wu, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Va.; Jeffery Liu, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Va; Wilson Zhou, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Va.
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.
SOURCE The Siemens Foundation