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Lexington, Newton students vie for scholarships in Siemens competition

Posted by Laura Franzini  November 29, 2012 09:37 AM

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Beginning Saturday, Dec. 1, two Lexington teens will compete for a chance to win a $100,000 scholarship at the nation's premier research competition for high school students, the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology.

According to a press release, Jonathan Tidor and Rohil Prasad, juniors at Lexington High School, will compete in Washington, D.C. Dec. 1 through 4.

By winning the team category at the University of Texas-Austin competition, the students became National Finalist winners for their mathematics project that has potential applications in nanotechnology. The team is mentored by Jesse Geneson of MIT.

Their research explores self-assembly, which deals with the spontaneous appearance of order out of simple parts, according to the Siemens Foundation. Tidor and Prasad looked at a self-assembly model and developed a method to build arbitrary shapes that is optimal in most situations. They found faster ways to create systems of particles that assemble themselves into particular structures, which could make it easier to assemble a large variety of nanostructures, such as nanoscale biomedical devices.

"I first became interested in math because of my brother," said Tidor, who is captain of Lexington High's math and Science Bowl teams. "In elementary school I couldn't wait to be older so that I could do all the cool math that he was doing."

Prasad won an honorable mention in the 2012 USA Junior Mathematical Olympiad and teaches Tae Kwon Do as a black belt.

"I was inspired to pursue this research by my love of mathematics competitions and a natural curiosity to see what mathematics research was like," he said. Both students said they are interested in pursuing a career in mathematics.

Christina Chen of Newton and Peijin Zhang of Lexington were also regional finalists at the competition, but were unable to advance to nationals. They each received a $1,000 scholarship.

Zhang's project was microbiology research, where he looked at how certain proteins in tuberculosis are associated with multi-drug resistance. Zhang is a senior at Lexington High.

Chen, a senior at Newton North, competed with a mathematics research project on equilateral triangles.

According to Siemens, only six individuals and six teams were named national finalists out of the 2,255 teens who entered the nationwide competition.

Laura Franzini can be reached at laura.franzini@globe.com.

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