ASU recognizes outstanding teen research at Intel Science and Engineering Fair


May 17, 2013

Last week, the rooms of the Phoenix Convention Center were lined with booths and panels showcasing innovative student research from around the world.

Renowned as the world’s largest pre-college science competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) came to Phoenix May 12-17 in an effort to inspire and empower teens to become tomorrow’s innovators in the field of research. Intel ISEF Competition Download Full Image

ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development (OKED) partnered with the Provost’s Office to offer Special Awards to outstanding students at ISEF.

“This is a prime opportunity for ASU to learn about the activities of these students, and for them to learn about ASU's emphasis on integrating use-inspired research into its learning environment and directing our entrepreneurial attention towards solving society's problems,” said William Petuskey, associate vice president of science, engineering and technology for OKED. “While ASU is pleased to recognize some of the ISEF finalists with awards, it salutes all of the students for the extraordinary high quality of their work and presentations.”  

Every year, approximately 1,500 high school students from 70 countries, regions and territories gather to solve problems through independent research. This year, Arizona saw 20 of its high school students hosting expo booths and competing for scholarships.

ASU joins organizations such as NASA and Google in recognizing individual student research through Special Awards such as scholarships.

This year ASU played a key role by providing volunteer judges in the form of ASU faculty and senior-level graduate students who were qualified and eager to inspire the future generation of scientists and engineers. Judges were required to have a doctorate or master’s degree with six years of relevant experience. These judges were tasked with selecting students for ISEF Grant Awards across 17 different science and engineering categories.

For William and Lorna Glaunsinger, co-chairs of the judging committee for this year’s Grand Awards, the fair is one that they happily returned to after its first appearance in Phoenix in 2005.

“One of the reasons we’re involved is that any time this fair comes to the state, there is an improvement in education that comes along with it,” said William Glaunsinger. “It sets a standard of achievement because of the huge impact it has on the schools in the area.”

Looking toward the future, the Glaunsingers are conscious of the challenges that are in store for future conferences in regards to recruiting judges, maintaining innovative topic ideas and raising local awareness for the fair.

“We are always looking at being on the cutting edge of science in terms of our categories,” said Lorna Glaunsinger. “Things are constantly changing in this field and we’re seeing a mixing of knowledge in regards to the different disciplines.”

ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, in partnership with the Provost’s Office, also offered Special Awards to 29 students. Award packages included four-year scholarship Provost’s Awards in addition to a research stipend for students who choose to attend ASU. The list of Special Award recipients may be found online at http://www.societyforscience.org/document.doc?id=493.

The Global Institute of Sustainability’s Rob and Melani Walton’s Sustainability Initiatives also supported scholarships to students whose projects demonstrated excellence in the field of sustainability.

ASU’s contribution to Special Awards together constituted one of the largest awards offered at the competition, and represents the university’s commitment to support the goals and mission of ISEF.

Student winners of this year’s New American University Provost Scholarship include in-state students Tejas Dharmaraj, 15, and Manav Ajay Sevak, 16, both students at Chandler High School.

Dharmaraj and Sevak won for their project “Indicting Alzheimer's: Novel Methods of Preventing Glial Scarring through the Downregulation of Cerebral Vimentin and Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein.”

Additional in-state winners include Kelsey Mackenzie Barter, 17, of University High School in Tucson.

Barter was awarded the scholarship for her research on cancer treatment, titled, “Targeting Survivin as a Potential Cancer Therapeutic.”

In addition to hosting expo booths and symposiums, ASU held a discussion about its new online research platform, Quanta. Launching in the fall of 2013, Quanta is a new program geared toward engaging high school students in research and creating an online social community that encourages passion in various research fields.

Begun as a student-led program in 2011, Quanta initially set out to promote careers in the fields of science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) to high school students while simultaneously providing access to university experiences and resources through university mentors.

Quanta encourages high school students, college students and research professionals alike to participate in the program, which allows them to collaborate with and mentor one another in programs focused on fostering sustained involvement in research.

The Intel ISEF Competition will return to Arizona in 2016 and 2019. The Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, the Global Institute of Sustainability and other groups at ASU also plan to continue their presence at the fair for the upcoming 2014 Intel ISEF in Los Angeles.

Written by Lorraine Longhi