In one of the nation’s premier high school science competitions, a high school senior from Oregon on Dec. 4 won a $100,000 scholarship from the Siemens Foundation for his research in a new area of mathematics called string topology.
The research conducted by Dmitry Vaintrob, 18, a student at South Eugene High School in Eugene, Oregon, could provide knowledge that mathematicians and physicists might apply to understand electricity, magnetism, and gravity, judges at the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology said.
“His work is at the Ph.D. level, publishable, and already attracting the attention of researchers,” said competition judge Michael Hopkins, a professor of mathematics at Harvard.
But the son of Russian immigrants, both professors at the University of Oregon, doesn’t spend all his time on math. He reads classical literature in his spare time and likes to memorize poetry.
Also winning a $100,000 scholarship was the team of Scott Molony, 18, Steven Arcangeli, 17, and Scott Horton, 17, students at Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for developing a technique that could one day help scientists engineer biofuel from plants. The three teens will share the prize money.
Five other individuals and five teams won scholarships for their research. Their scholarship awards range from $50,000 to $10,000. The Siemens competition was launched in 1998 to recognize American’s best math and science students, with 1,660 students entering this year. The award ceremony, attended by U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, was held at New York University.
Among the team finalists were Jinju Yi, of Plainview, and Vijay Jain, of New Hyde Park, both on New York’s Long Island, who created a mechanism that could one day help in the early detection of cancer and the identification of bioterrorist agents.
Among the individuals finalists was Guannan “Roger” Wang, of Horseheads, N.Y., who studied conductive properties of gold nanoparticle films–a project that could be used in the development of powerful sensors. The other finalists are from Texas, West Virginia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Hawaii, Ohio, and North Carolina.
Their projects included the discovery of three pulsar stars, research into the evolution of guenon monkeys, and the use of gene silencing techniques in microscopic worms.
The Siemens Foundation distributes nearly $2 million annually in scholarships and awards. The science contest has also been known as the Siemens Westinghouse Competition.
The Siemens Foundation is supported by the U.S. subsidiary of the Munich, Germany-based multinational technology conglomerate Siemens AG.