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ASA Statisticians Judge, Award Students in Competition

1 July 2017 103 views 2 Comments
From left: Olga Korosteleva (president, SCASA), second-place winner Tejas S. Athni, third-place winner Isani Singh, and Gajanan Bhat (president, OCLBASA) at the Special Awards ceremony.  First-place winner, Davey Hideo Huang, was unable to attend the awards ceremony.

From left: Olga Korosteleva (president, SCASA), second-place winner Tejas S. Athni, third-place winner Isani Singh, and Gajanan Bhat (president, OCLBASA) at the Special Awards ceremony.  First-place winner, Davey Hideo Huang, was unable to attend the awards ceremony.

    Statisticians from three southern California chapters—Southern California, Orange County/Long Beach, and San Diego—participated as judges in the 2017 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), held May 14–19 in Los Angeles.

    Students participating were in grades 9–12 and earned the right to compete by winning a top prize at a local, regional, state, or national science fair. More than 40 southern California judges evaluated 1,400+ science projects by students from more than 70 countries who represented virtually every scientific and engineering discipline (because statistics is used in every discipline).

    On the first day of reviews, 34 judges screened all 1,400+ projects and selected about 170 that incorporated detailed statistical analysis. From this group, 26 projects were selected for the final interview round the next day. On Wednesday morning, 18 judges were ready at 7:15 a.m. to conduct interviews with the finalists. Working in teams of three, the judges selected the three winners and awarded honorable mention to the next best 13 of the rest.

    The first-place winner was Davey Hideo Huang, a junior at Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawaii. His project title was “A Morphokinetic and Machine Learning Model for Aneuploidy Screening of Human Preimplantation Embryos.” He used time-lapse imaging of in vitro developing embryos to identify novel morphokinetic markers for aneuploidy. He then used multivariate logistic regression, neural networks, and support vector machines to develop a simple, non-invasive, inexpensive, and accurate model to screen for aneuploidy with high discriminative capabilities offering significant improvements over current state-of-the-art screening. Huang received $1,500 from the ASA and a Grand Award “Best in Category” in the Cellular and Molecular Biology category.

    The second-place winner was Tejas S. Athni, a junior at Stratford Academy in Macon, Georgia, who received $1,000 for “Inhibiting the Proliferation of Patient-Derived Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) Cells and U-87 MG Cell Line Using Leaf Extract of Bacopa monnieri.”

    The third-place winner was Isani Singh, a junior at Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colorado, who received $500 for “Hospitalization in Women with Turner Syndrome.” Singh also received a Grand Award “second in category” in the Biomedical and Health Science category.

    Visit the Press Room on the Intel site to read the full list of Special Awards winners and their prizes, and the list of Grand Awards winners and their prizes.

     

    Statisticians enjoy the ASA-hosted dinner at the 2017 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

    Statisticians enjoy the ASA-hosted dinner at the 2017 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

      Olga Korosteleva (president, Southern California Chapter) of California State University, Long Beach, and Gajanan Bhat (president, Orange County/Long Beach Chapter) of Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. attended the Special Awards ceremony to present ASA certificates to the winners. Awardees received one-year student memberships to the ASA, including one-year subscriptions to Significance and CHANCE.

      Many judges found the experience rewarding. They said they were energized and transformed by the breadth and depth of the research methods and concomitant inferential analysis applied to address pressing issues in areas as diverse as health care, energy, materials sciences, plant sciences, molecular biology, computational biology, and many others.

      The students’ project boards included background literature, purposeful hypotheses, detailed analysis and results, and integrated conclusions. Especially impressive were the nonparametric and machine-learning tools some students brought to bear on their research problems. Methods such as principal components analysis and others, far beyond the scope of K–12 and even some undergraduate statistics coursework, brought a sophisticated and modern perspective to these meaningful science and engineering projects.

      Judges were also impressed with the diversity of students, including groups from Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Brazil, Uruguay, the Czech Republic, and historically under-represented areas in the United States such as Fresno, California.

      In addition to reviewing the projects, the judges participated in extended outreach to students beyond the top winners. During the first review of the projects, 400 of the most promising projects received a copy of CHANCE magazine and a certificate for a free ebook from O’Reilly Media. On the second day of review, students with the 100 most promising projects each received a book. The students were delighted to receive a book for their good use of statistics in their projects and seemed genuinely impressed that professional statisticians took notice of their work.

      Thanks to continued support provided by the ASA Council of Chapters Governing Board, Tom Short from West Chester University of Pennsylvania presented a Monday symposium for ISEF finalists, teachers, and mentors. Approximately 100 people were in attendance as Tom gave a talk titled “Statistics: The Grammar of Science.” After the symposium, enthusiastic finalists and teachers had many questions about specific science fair projects and the broader role of statistics in K–12 science education and beyond.

      The ASA and its Pittsburgh Chapter will participate in next year’s ISEF, which will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 13–18, 2018. Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to contact Rob Krafty at rkrafty@pitt.edu.

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      2 Comments »

      • Madeline Bauer said:

        Correction: It turns out that the ISEF students winning in the Honorable Mention category do not receive one-year student memberships to the ASA nor do they receive one-year subscriptions to Significance or to CHANCE.

        Missed opportunity for extending our outreach!

      • Megan Murphy (author) said:

        Thanks Madeline! I have updated the article.

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