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9 LI students named Intel science finalists

Can he take the double gold?

At Ward Melville High School, admirers of Ruoyi (Roy) Jiang think the 17-year-old has a good shot at becoming only the second student in history to win top place $100,000 prizes in two national science contests.

>>>PHOTOS: The nine Long Island finalists and 52 other area semifinalists

MORE: Click here to meet all nine finalists

Wednesday, Jiang, of East Setauket, emerged as one of nine Long Island finalists - out of 40 nationwide - in the Intel science competition. As usual, Long Island produced more finalists than any state in the nation including California, which had eight.

In March, Jiang and his fellow finalists will compete in Washington, D.C. for $630,000 in awards, including a first- place $100,000 scholarship.

Jiang has already captured $100,000 from the Siemens science contest, which held its national finals last month in Manhattan. For his research, he used a supercomputer to learn why resistance often develops to a commonly used cancer drug.

"Well, it certainly is intimidating," Jiang said in a phone interview Wednesday. "It's sort of unreal, but I also think it's an indication of how rewarding research can be."

Since becoming an academic celebrity, the 12th-grader has been forced to juggle his school schedule. Wednesday, he took a chemistry midterm exam that had originally been scheduled for Thursday, so he would be free to ring the closing bell on the New York Stock Exchange this afternoon in recognition of his Siemens prize.

Jiang's advancement to the finals was familiar news for Ward Melville High in East Setauket, which is part of the Three Village district and a perennial research powerhouse. The school Wednesday boasted two finalists - more than any high school in the country, except the Texas Academy of Mathematics & Science in Denton, Texas, which specializes in those subjects and also produced two finalists.

George Baldo, a former Stony Brook University researcher who now directs Ward Melville's program, thinks Jiang stands a good chance of going all the way in the Intel finals, because of his prior experience of dealing with contest judges and crowds of spectators.

"Given that, I think he'll be quite comfortable," Baldo said.

In 2000, Mariangela Lisanti, a senior from Westport, Conn., won both individual $100,000 scholarships in the Siemens and Intel competitions.

As usual, medical research won frequent honors this year. In addition to Jiang's work, Eric Brooks of Hewlett High School produced a finalist project that dealt with prostate cancer, while finalist Kevin Xu of Roslyn High School examined the quality of health care received by inner-city victims of breast cancer.

Like other finalists, Xu received advanced notification Tuesday evening in a phone call from contest officials.

"When I realized the call was from Intel, my heart basically stopped," Xu said.

For his research project, Xu surveyed 105 breast-cancer patients in Brooklyn and Staten Island, to check on the quality of their health care. Among his findings: only 44 percent of those patients received follow-up treatment, such as chemotherapy, once their cancer was confirmed.

Xu started his research as a 10th grader, calling dozens of inner-city cancer clinics before finally finding a few agencies willing to help with his survey.

"He is the person I would pick to win a Nobel Prize in medicine someday," said Allyson Weseley, coordinator of secondary research in the Roslyn school district.

Established in 1942, the Intel contest is the nation's oldest student research competition and is funded by a California-based maker of computer chips.

This year's Long Island Intel finalists and their projects

LEVENT ALPOGE, 17

Half Hollow Hills High School West, Dix Hills

PROJECT: "A Non-Parametric, Massively Parallelized Multiscale Vessel Detection Method for Complex Vascular Structures"

DESCRIPTION: Researched an improved method of detecting stenosis, a narrowing of blood vessels underlying many health problems.

TEACHER: Michael Lake

SUPERVISING SCIENTIST: Xenophon Papademetris, Yale University

 

ERIC BROOKS, 16

George W. Hewlett High School, Hewlett

PROJECT: "Transition from Indolent to Metastatic Prostate Cancer Characterized through the Health Disparity between African American and Caucasian American Men"

DESCRIPTION: Studied prostate cancer genomics to begin identifying why the disease sometimes metastasizes or spreads, to help scientists decide whether uncomfortable treatments are necessary early on.

TEACHER: Patricia Nardi

SUPERVISING SCIENTIST: Alex Pearlman, New York University Lanson Medical Center

 

YUVAL CALEV, 17

Ward Melville High School, East Setauket

PROJECT: "Language Perception, Production and Memory: A Comparison of Older and Younger Adults"

DESCRIPTION: Studied relationships between memory, speech process and perception, which may help in research of memory deterioration and its effects.

TEACHER: George Baldo

SUPERVISING SCIENTIST: Arthur Samuel, Stony Brook University

 

MICHAEL COMUNIELLO, 17

Division Avenue High School, Levittown

PROJECT: "Science Fair, Science Unfair: Analysis of Equity in High School Science Research Education"

DESCRIPTION: Looked at factors that help some high schools succeed in national science competitions year after year, while other high schools succeed only rarely.

TEACHER: Gerard Marzigliano

SUPERVISING SCIENTIST: None

 

RUOYI JIANG, 17

Ward Melville High School, East Setauket

PROJECT: "Targeting Loop Dynamics in BetaI/BetaIII Isotype Turbulin: The Application of In Silico Techniques in Combating Chemotherapy Drug Resistance"

DESCRIPTION: Used a supercomputer to learn why resistance often develops with the cancer drug Paclitaxel, and how resistance can be overcome.

TEACHER: George Baldo

SUPERVISING SCIENTIST: Carlos Simmerling, Stony Brook University

 

PAUL MASIH DAS, 17

Lawrence High School, Cedarhurst

PROJECT: "A Novel Chemical Synthesis for >1 Mu2 Graphene Sheets"

DESCRIPTION: Developed a new and innovative synthesis method for graphene, a sheet of densely packed carbon atoms.

TEACHER: Rebecca Isseroff

SUPERVISING SCIENTIST: Miriam Rafailovich, Stony Brook University

 

JOSHUA PFEFFER, 17

North Shore Hebrew Academy, Great Neck

PROJECT: "Super Kahler-Ricci Flow"

DESCRIPTION: Generalized a geometric flow equation called "Super Kahler-Ricci Flow" to spaces known as supermanifolds, which are part of string theory. The theory is a concept in physics that treats subatomic particles as one-dimensional strings.

TEACHER: Carlos Marques

SUPERVISING SCIENTIST: Martin Rocek, Stony Brook University

 

KEVIN XU, 17

Roslyn High School, Roslyn Heights

PROJECT: "Relationships between Oncologist Gender, Participatory Decision Making, Anxiety and Breast Cancer Cure"

DESCRIPTION: Investigated effects of doctor-patient relationships on breast cancer treatment in urban settings - a study that underlined the need for both parties to be informed about benefits of radiotherapy.

TEACHER: Allyson Weseley

SUPERVISING SCIENTIST: None

 

LORI YING, 17

South Side High School, Rockville Centre

PROJECT: "Female Mating Patterns and Mate Quality in the Dengue Vector Mosquito, Aedes aegypti"

DESCRIPTION: Studied the application of genetic control strategy in reducing cases of dengue fever.

TEACHER: Herb Weiss

SUPERVISING SCIENTIST: Laura Harrington, Cornell University

>>>PHOTOS: The nine Long Island finalists and 52 other area semifinalists

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