Teen Science Sensations From Colorado and Oklahoma Take Regional Title in Prestigious Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology

Research on Biology and Biochemistry Honored in Nation's Premier Science Research Competition for High School Students at The University of Texas at Austin

Connie Liu of Aurora, Colorado Wins Top Individual Prize; Benjamin Zhou and Zhongshi Wang of Norman, Oklahoma Win Top Team Prize

Nov 06, 2010, 22:54 ET from The Siemens Foundation

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 6, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Cutting edge research on the therapeutic use of microRNAs to treat ovarian cancer and technology to produce hydrogen-based energy from wastewater earned top honors tonight for Connie Liu and Benjamin Zhou and Zhongshi Wang in the Region 2 Finals of the 2010-11 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, the nation's premier science research competition for high school students.  

The Siemens Competition, a signature program of the Siemens Foundation, is administered by the College Board.  Tonight's winners will receive thousands of dollars in scholarships and be invited to compete at the National Finals in Washington, DC, December 3–6, 2010, where the winners of six regional competitions will vie for the $100,000 Grand Prize and national acclaim for extraordinary scientific achievement at the high school level.  

"Each year, the Siemens Foundation invites America's high school students to make their mark in the world of science," said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, President of the Siemens Foundation.  "We commend these students on rising to the challenge and pushing the envelope of scientific thought."

The students presented their research this weekend to a panel of judges from The University of Texas at Austin, host of the Region 2 Finals.  

The Winning Individual

Connie Liu, a senior at Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colorado won the individual category and a $3,000 college scholarship for her project on the therapeutic use of microRNAs to treat ovarian cancer.

Therapeutic Use of microRNA-200c to Treat Ovarian Cancer

"Ms. Liu exhibited an impressive depth of knowledge from the two years of lab research she dedicated to her project," said judge, Dr. Janice Fischer, Professor of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology at The University of Texas at Austin. "Her project allows us to think about using microRNA as a therapeutic agent to potentially make the cancer-like behavior of cells disappear.

Ms. Liu hopes her research can help scientists better understand and address various cancers. She first became interested in the topic after interviewing the principal investigator of a lab at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Ms. Liu credits science books for children for her early interest in the field. She plans to pursue aerospace engineering or nuclear engineering in college.

The Winning Team

Benjamin Zhou, a junior at Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Zhongshi Wang, a senior at Norman North High School in Norman, Oklahoma, won the team category and will share a $6,000 scholarship for their microbiology project that explores creating hydrogen-based energy from wastewater.

From Wastewater to Hydrogen: Microbial Community Structure for Electrohydrogenesis

Mr. Zhou and Mr. Wang's innovative project uses new cutting edge technology in hopes of developing green energy," said Dr. Marvin Whiteley, Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at The University of Texas at Austin. "The team demonstrated a way to create hydrogen energy from wastewater while breaking down the waste. Through applied engineering, they were also able increase the yield of hydrogen."

Mr. Zhou and Mr. Wang's project was inspired by the current energy crisis and the need for alternative energy sources. The team hopes their work will lead to decreased reliance on fossil fuels and aid in the treatment of wastewater. In his free time, Mr. Zhou volunteers and enjoys break dancing.  He would like to follow in his father's footsteps and become a scientist. Mr. Wang has been interested in science since he was a child. He has been published in Aerie International, a journal that highlights the work of students worldwide and hopes to one day become a scientist.

Regional Finalists

The remaining regional finalists each received a $1,000 scholarship.  Regional Finalists in the individual category were:

  • Preeti Singhal of Arlington, Texas
  • Stephanie Su of Katy, Texas
  • Bhaskaran Nair of Plano, Texas
  • Shiqi Shan of Shreveport, Louisiana

Team Regional Finalists were:

  • George Qi  and Shenghao Wang of Austin, Texas
  • Alexandra Ilic and Kevin Tian of Austin, Texas and Ignacio Ramirez of Fort Worth, Texas
  • Mariam Saifullah of Richardson, Texas and Shulin Ye of Lewisville, Texas
  • Favyen Bastani and Jonathan Lin of Plano, Texas

The Siemens Competition

The Siemens Competition was launched in 1998 to recognize America's best and brightest math and science students. Every fall, America turns its eye to the brilliant young scientists competing in the Siemens Competition.  2,033 students registered to enter the Competition this year for a record number of 1,372 projects submitted.   312 students were named semifinalists and 94 were named regional finalists, representing 36 states.  Entries are judged at the regional level by esteemed scientists at six leading research universities which host the regional competitions:  California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Notre Dame and The University of Texas at Austin.

Follow the Siemens Foundation on Twitter (www.twitter.com/sfoundation) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/SiemensFoundation) for updates throughout the 2010-11 Siemens Competition.  Then visit www.siemens-foundation.org at 9:30 am EST on December 6 for a live webcast of the National Finalist Awards Presentation.

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, Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement, and The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, which encourages K-12 students to develop innovative green solutions for environmental issues.  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. companies and its parent company, Siemens AG.  For more information, visit www.siemens-foundation.org.

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 5,700 of the nation'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.

B-roll and photos of winners available on request.

SOURCE The Siemens Foundation