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Student researcher has grand ISEF experience

Each year, the Society for Science & the Public and Intel bring together some of the brightest young minds from around the world to participate in an event known as the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, or ISEF.

Founded in 1950, it is the largest pre-collegiate science competition in the world, regarded as the most prestigious fair for young science researchers. Each year, Intel ISEF is held in a different location, and this year it was in Los Angeles May 11-16.

This year actually had the largest number of participants, drawing more than 1,700 high school students from more than 70 countries to compete for about $5 million in prize money along with scholarships, trips and more.

To qualify as an Intel ISEF finalist, students must attain a top place in their regional, state or national competition.

Besides art, I also love science. As a winner at the New York State Science and Engineering Fair (NYSSEF), I was excited to qualify for the fair this year. I am going into my junior year at Manhasset High School and I am a student in the Manhasset Science Research program run by Peter Guastella and Alison Huenger.

I worked in a team with my brother Austen Te and Manhasset junior Jinyu Wu. We studied Alzheimer's disease as our primary topic. We researched mechanisms that might cause Alzheimer's disease and tested corresponding compounds that might alleviate Alzheimer's symptoms as potential future therapeutic agents.

Each research project has a station where the students display their work. At night, our chaperones dropped us off at the hotel for the pin exchange. This is a student-only event where both finalists and student observers exchange gifts from their native regions as a way to get to know one another. I met so many people from different places. I swapped with and talked to kids from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and more.

Presentation day was May 14. Finalists are judged for both Grand Awards and Special Awards. It was fascinating to meet and present to all these judges. After the judging was over, all ISEF participants, both students and adults, were invited to have fun at night at Universal Studios Hollywood, which was just for ISEF finalists.

My team and I won two awards for our Alzheimer's research. We received a Special Award from the Sigma Xi Society as well as a Grand Award of fourth place in biochemistry. Being a finalist was one of the most motivating, exciting and enriching events that I have ever experienced. I truly enjoyed it and hope to participate again as a finalist in the future.

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