For the past 14 years, Intel has been distributing hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes to winners of their annual Science Talent Search competiton. With over 1,700 applicants, chances of securing the grand $100,000 prize is very tough. However,Sara Volz, a high-school senior from Colorado Springs, won the top award for her research of algae biofuels. Jonah Kallenbach of Pennsylvania came in a close second for his bioinformatics study on protein binding for drug therapy and Adam Bowman, of Brentwood, Tennesee came in third for pulsed plasma device design.
Altogether, $630,000 was awarded to ten high-school seniors from across the United states. The truth is that the talent search actually streches back more than 70 years to 1942 when it was sponsored by Westinghouse. One of the most interesting things about this type of contest is understanding how useful it is for encouraging young adults to pursue a career in science and discovering whether or not it has helped launch the careers of those fortunate enough to win. With 2,500 contest finalists since its inception, figuring out where the winners are today is a mighty tall task. Thankfully, Scientific American has taken upon itself this mission and has uploaded a webpage that asks the question “Where are they now?”
In the video below, this year’s prize recepient, Sara Volz, explains her research on Algae Biofuels.