Seven Indian American high school students have been named among the 40 finalists in the Intel for Science Talent Search, the country's most prestigious science and math competition.
They will compete March 8-13 in Washington, D.C., for $630,000 in total awards. The first place winner will receive $100,000 from the Intel Foundation.
Two of this year's Indian American finalists are from California: Saurabh Sharan of Bellarmine College Preparatory School in San Jose; and Sayoni Saha of Gretchen Whitney High School in Cerritos.
Two are from Michigan: Siddhartha Gautama Jena of International Academy in Bloomfield Hills; and Nithin Reddy Tumma of Port Huron Northern High School, Port Huron.
The other three Indian American finalists are: Neel S. Patel of Oviedo High School in Oviedo, Florida; Anirudh Prabhu of West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School in West Lafayette, Indiana; and Neil Kamlesh Mehta of Jericho Senior High School in Jericho, New York.
About 60 of the 3000 semifinalists in the competition this year were South Asian American students - most of them Indian American students (I-W, Jan. 20). There were 1,839 applicants in the 2012 competition.
Sharan's project, "Parameter-Free Graph-Based Nuclear Segmentation in Cellular Images Using Morphological Cues," developed a computer algorithm to count and identify cells in a culture.
Replacing manual counting methods, it could dramatically reduce the costs of lab tests, according to Patrick Adams, who advises the science club at Bellarmine. He told the San Jose Mercury News, "It's a pretty revolutionary concept."
Saha's project was "A Doll That Looks Likes Me: A Study of Self-Concept in Children with Down Syndrome."
Jena, who has taken all the science courses his school offers and plays the saxophone and piano, did a project called "Elevated Cholesterol Impairs Water and Gas Transport in Red Blood Cells."
It demonstrated that the immediate effect of elevated cholesterol is dysfunction of active water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide transport by red blood cells.
Mehta's project was "Co-restoration of Type III Nrg1 back signaling through depolarization: Implications for schizophrenia."
A senior, he analyzed a mutation of the protein Type III Nrg1 statistically linked to schizophrenia, and how a novel tool in neurology, optogenetics, which uses light to depolarize cells, can be used to restore the defects present, ultimately developing a novel path for schizophrenia therapy.
"The idea for my project," Mehta told the Syosset Jericho Tribune, came from my Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2011 project, where I was actually partners with Savina Kim, another Intel finalist this year from Commack."