WASHINGTON, D.C.--A high school student who developed a new mechanism to detect neurotoxins has been awarded the top prize in this year's Intel Science Talent Search. David Lawrence Vigliarolo Bauer received a $100,000 scholarship for his project and was among nine other students also recognized for their work at a ceremony here last night.
Bauer, 17, of Hunter College High School in New York City entered the contest with an idea for a sensor that could detect neurotoxins. The sensor would employ fluorescent nanocrystals that monitor changes in acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme on which all known neurotoxins act. In the presence of a neurotoxin, the nanocrystals would dim enough to set off a spectrometer. Bauer says that someday paramedics could have the sensor coated on their badges to help them detect toxic agents such as nerve gas.
"We are very thrilled and excited for David," says David Laurenson, principal of Hunter College High School. "David has great determination and is a great mentor to other students. We hope this award will pave the way for them to be successful as well."
The Intel award, one of two top high school science competitions in the United States, attracted 1600 entries from around the country. A panel of 100 scientists from various fields whittled the applicants down to 40 finalists, and a 12-member panel selected 10 winners.
Among the other winners, Timothy Frank Credo, 17, of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Highland Park took home the second-place scholarship prize of $75,000 for developing a more precise method for clocking photons across a plate in a particle detector. Kelley Harris, 17, of C. K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento, California, won a third-place $50,000 scholarship for her work on viral proteins that bind to Z-DNA.