The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair was held in Pittsburgh on May 13-18, 2012. Over 1500 high school students from about 70 countries presented their projects to judges from a variety of disciplines. The American Statistical Association sponsors annual special awards for the Best Use of Statistics. The Pittsburgh ASA Chapter was happy to host a large team of local statisticians who reviewed the statistical content and merit of all the presented projects. During the first day of review, the judges narrowed the field to around 50 projects that showed a sophisticated level of statistical analysis. Of those 50 projects, 15 were selected for final interviews the following day; each finalist then was interviewed by multiple teams of judges. The judges eventually selected three winners and four honorable mentions.
The first place award of $1500 went to Shreya Mathur, 15, from Oxford High School in Oxford, Mississippi for “Developing a Novel Test to Detect Cancer Genes from Microarray Data”. Shreya developed her own statistic and wrote code in R to implement her simulations and analysis. She was entirely self-taught! The second place award of $500 went to Henry Lin, 16, from Caddo Parish Magnet High School in Shreveport, Louisiana for his project on “A Generalized Holographic Model of Cosmic Accelerated Expansion”. Henry demonstrated his MCMC/Metropolis-Hastings approach with dynamic visualization tools that the judges agreed could be used in any university level astrostatistics course. A third place award of $250 went to Nicholas Schiefer, 17, of Holy Trinity School in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada for his development of “Apodora: Markov Chain-Inspired Microsearch”, a text mining tool with several nice convergence properties.
Honorable Mentions were awarded to Mingsha Zhou, 18, from Marianopolis College in Westmount, Quebec, Canada for “Rapid Evolution of Brown Trout in the Kerguelen Islands”; Travis Sigafoos, 18, at Champlin Park High School in Champlin, Minnesota for “A Spectrum of Triangulation: ADHD, Circadian Rhythmicity, and Bipolar Symptoms”; Emily Hu, 16, from Lexington High School in Lexington, Massachusetts for “The Effects of Mindful Decision Making on Post-Decision Regret”; and Madison Chakoumakos and Zibo Zhuang, both 17, from Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee for “Characterizing the Elements of Earth’s Radiative Budget: Applying Uncertainty Quantification to Climate Models”.
Chapter President Rebecca Nugent from the Department of Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania presented the awards to the winners. All winners and honorable mention awardees also received one-year subscriptions to Significance and Chance. In general, the judges were very impressed with the quality and variety of the students’ research as well as their poise and intellectual maturity during the interview process. We think we’ll be seeing some of the above names in the ASA Statistics Community soon!
Further information on all prizes can be found at this writeup in Science News.