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High-School Students Show Poise, Maturity in Pittsburgh Competition

1 August 2012 No Comment
Shreya Mathur

Shreya Mathur

Henry Lin

Nicholas Schiefer

Nicholas Schiefer

More than 1,500 high-school students from about 70 countries presented projects to judges from a variety of disciplines during the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 13–18.

The American Statistical Association sponsors special awards for the best use of statistics. The ASA Pittsburgh Chapter hosted 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, 15 were selected for final interviews the following day with multiple teams of judges. The judges eventually selected three winners and four honorable mentions. In general, the judges were impressed with the quality and variety of the students’ research, as well as their poise and intellectual maturity during the interview process.

The first-place award of $1,500 went to Shreya Mathur, 15, from Oxford High School in Oxford, Mississippi, for “Developing a Novel Test to Detect Cancer Genes from Microarray Data.” Mathur developed her own statistic and wrote code in R to implement her simulations and analysis.

The second-place award of $500 went to Henry Lin, 16, from Caddo Parish Magnet High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, for “A Generalized Holographic Model of Cosmic Accelerated Expansion.” Lin 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 “Apodora: Markov Chain-Inspired Microsearch,” a text-mining tool with several convergence properties.

Honorable mentions were awarded to the following:

  • Mingsha Zhou, 18, from Marianopolis College in Westmount, Quebec, Canada for “Rapid Evolution of Brown Trout in the Kerguelen Islands”
  • Travis Sigafoos, 18, from 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”
  • 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”

Pittsburgh Chapter President Rebecca Nugent, from the department of statistics at Carnegie Mellon University, presented the awards to the winners. All winners and honorable mention awardees also received one-year subscriptions to Significance and CHANCE magazines.

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