Bayer School Presents Awards at Intel Science & Engineering Fair

During the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) held in May 2012 in Pittsburgh, two female students from Austin, Tex., and Portland, Ore., were chosen to receive the first Duquesne University Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences Special Awards.

Judges Dean David Seybert, Dr. Alan Seadler and Dr. Rita Mihailescu combed through 1,500 entries from around the world to select two that showed outstanding scientific creativity and excellence in design and project performance. Not only did they review abstracts, then posters, they also interviewed each of the finalists and selected two for the two $2,500 awards.

Mai-Anh Nguyen Vu, a 16-year-old senior at McNeil High School in Austin, tested environmental science principles in her work, Determining the Quantum Limit of Palladium and Gold Nanometallic Supercatalyst by Kinetic Method. In looking at metallic ions being reduced to metal, Vu characterized the metal nanoclusters by size. While it might seem that using more of the catalyst might produce more metal after the reduction, Vu's work showed an optimal amount for each metal.

Naomi Shah, a Sunset High School student in Portland, examined An Experimental Study of the Impact of Target Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Emissions on Lung Health Plus a Novel Risk Assessment. This basic science research developed a new mathematical algorithm to explain exposure to volatile compounds and health risk management. Shah is working with physicians to test her methodology in pulmonary assessments and is collaborating with government agencies to define the possible impact on public science policy.

In the judging, the Bayer School team considered:

  • The students' depth of knowledge about their projects
  • The independence of their work
  • The signature research involved
  • The project's potential to change the paradigm in the discipline.

Besides the level of scholarship, Seybert said he was impressed with the enthusiasm exhibited by all of the student scientists.

"I might be biased, but these science students show such passion for their work!" Seybert said.

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