Sara Volz of Colorado Springs, Colo., won the Intel Science Talent Search, the nation's most prestigious high school science competition, for her experiments with algae as a biofuel and will take home a prize of $100,000. Other finalists from among the other 39 high school finalists won prizes totaling $530,000.
Algae is a promising biofuel but still quite costly to produce. Volz (shown above, center) used artificial selection to create populations of algae cells with high oil content to produce a more economically feasible biofuel. And memorably, she cultivated the algae under her loft bed.
Second prize, worth $75,000, went to Jonah Kallenbach (above, left), 17, of Ambler, Pa., whose project in bioinformatics could lead to new treatments for diseases such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer and tuberculosis.
Third prize, worth $50,000, went to Adam Bowman (above, right), 17, of Brentwood, Tenn., for his work on less expensive ways to produce plasmas that could be useful in fields such as semiconductor manufacturing and nuclear physics.
The three won from more than 1,700 entries in this year's competition. Seven alumni of the competition have won Nobel Prizes and 11 have received MacArthur "genius" awards.
Related on SmartPlanet:
- 15-year-old develops tech to detect pancreatic cancer
- 10-year-old cracks science puzzle and co-authors paper
- 17-year-old devises potential cure for cancer
- Study shows pervasive gender bias in science
- Breakthrough could carry solar, wind power long distances
- The end of lab mice: why doctors and vets are collaborating
- In breakthrough, patients' immune systems attack cancer cells
photo: Courtesy of Intel