Press Release

14-Year-Old High School Senior from Colorado Wins Top Honors in the Intel Science Talent Search

Youngest Winner in the 58-Year History of the Program; Second Female Winner in 6 Years

Runners Up from Maryland, Illinois, Iowa, California, New York, Massachusetts and Virginia

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 8, 1999 - Science Service and Intel Corporation tonight awarded Natalia Toro, a 14-year old high school senior at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo., top honors in the Intel Science Talent Search, America's oldest and most prestigious pre-college science scholarship competition.

Natalia, who entered a physics project "Independent Analysis of Evidence for nu_mu <--> nu_tau Oscillations in the SuperKamiokande Atmospheric Neutrino Data," is the youngest student in the 58-year history of the program to win the top prize, a college scholarship of $50,000. She is the second female in 6 years to win top honors.

For her winning project, Natalia Toro studied oscillations of neutrinos, the most elusive of subatomic particles. Such work may help explain mysterious shortages in neutrino counts and have a fundamental impact on high-energy physics. She took her first college-level mathematics course in the sixth grade and went on to perform her research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as part of the Research Science Institute in the summer of 1998. Natalia enjoys tennis and swimming and tutoring middle school students. She is fluent in Spanish and hopes to attend MIT to earn a doctorate in physics.

David Moore, 18, a senior at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., was awarded the second place scholarship of $40,000 for his physics project titled "Quantum Calculations to Determine Electrical Properties for Molecular Electronic Rectifying Diodes." David used detailed quantum modeling techniques to determine the electrical properties of a newly proposed design for molecular electronic switches. David is an Eagle Scout and a member of the track and cross-country team. He is the network/system administrator at his high school, scored a perfect combined score of 1600 on his SAT tests and plans to attend Duke University to study electrical engineering.

Keith Winstein, 17, a senior at Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) in Aurora, Ill. was awarded the third place scholarship of $30,000 for his computer science project titled "Lexical Steganography Through Adaptive Modulation of the Word Choice Hash." His research focused on steganography, techniques for embedding information in computerized data without making any perceptible change to the original material. Keith is co-founder of the IMSA Advanced Computing Association, a member of the American Computer Science League and the Sound F/X, a jazz choir. He plans to attend MIT.

"These students represent the brightest young scientists in the country," said Dr. Craig Barrett, Intel's president and chief executive officer. "Our challenge and goal for the Intel Science Talent Search is to reward and recognize students who excel and achieve; to support teachers who go the extra mile to excite and involve their students; and to help parents stay involved in their children's education."

Completing the list of the top ten winners:

  • Fourth Place, a $20,000 scholarship to Carol Anne Fassbinder, 18, of Valley Community High School in Elgin, Iowa for her biology project, "Analysis of Monoterpenoids for Control of the Varroa jacobsoni." Carol uncovered a new control for Varroa jacobsoni, a parasitic mite that is crippling beekeeping in the state of Iowa, where her family operates honeybee colonies. She has begun the patent process for her new parasite control. Carol is student council president, plays the bassoon, and plans to enter Iowa State University to study entomology.

  • Fifth Place, a $20,000 scholarship to Rio Gabriel Bennin, 17, a home-schooled senior from Berkeley, Calif. who presented a mathematics project, "N-Dimensional Equalizers and Pythagorean Quadrilaterals," which obtains a method for dividing a geometric figure, such as a triangle, into two equal parts. Rio is a USTA-ranked tennis player who plays steel drums and enjoys swing dancing. Rio earned a perfect 1600 on his SAT tests and was a grand prize-winner for the past two years in the USAMTS, a national mathematics competition. He plans to attend Harvard or Princeton.

  • Sixth Place, a $20,000 scholarship to Lisa Beth Schwartz, 17, of Roslyn High School in Roslyn Heights, N.Y., whose mathematics project explored patterns in two-way sequences of positive integers. First in her class, Lisa is a vocalist and pianist who enjoys tennis and golf. She is editor-in-chief of the literary magazine and student newspaper and hopes to attend Harvard.

  • Seventh Place, a $15,000 scholarship to Scott Alexander Fruhan, a 17-year-old student at Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury, Mass. presented a biology study on T cells in multiple sclerosis patients. Mononuclear T cells control the body's immune response. Scott plays varsity soccer and tennis, sings in the glee club and a select a cappella group, and edits the school newspaper. He hopes to enter Harvard's pre-med program.

  • Eighth Place, a $15,000 scholarship to Kurt Elliott Mitman, 16, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va. Kurt presented an astrophysics study on the highly energetic astronomical phenomena known as gamma ray bursts (GRBs) at the Naval Research Laboratory. Co-author of a paper on this subject submitted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal, Kurt is on the varsity crew team, is a champion player in the bridge club and has been an award winner on the Model UN team. He hopes to study physics at Stanford.

  • Ninth Place, a $15,000 scholarship to Diana Barnard Townsend-Butterworth, a 17-year-old from the Chapin School in New York, N.Y. She entered a biology project that investigated Alzheimer's disease, which contributed to her grandmother's death, in order to "do something so that no other granddaughter would have a grandmother who forgot her name." Diana focused on the effects on human brain cells of cadmium, a potentially lethal heavy metal found in cigarettes and many household items. Diana has danced with the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center and plays on the New York City Women's Field Hockey Team. She plans to study neuroscience and psychology at Harvard.

  • Tenth Place, a $15,000 scholarship to Alexander David Wissner-Gross, 17, a senior at Great Neck High School in Great Neck, N.Y. Alexander combined physics, chemistry, computers and engineering for his study of ionized C60 molecules, called fullerenes or "buckeyballs," as a nanoscopic, granular medium. Alex is editor-in-chief of the science journal, and on the junior varsity fencing team. A singer, he has performed with the New York City Opera. He hopes to continue his studies at MIT.

Cullen Blake, 17, from Bethlehem Central High School in Delmar, N.Y. and David Harden, 17, from South Miami Senior High School in Miami, Fla. were chosen as first and second alternates respectively in case one or two of the top ten winners cannot accept their scholarship award. The other Finalists each receive a $3,000 college scholarship. In addition, Cullen Blake was chosen by his fellow Finalists to receive the first Glenn T. Seaborg Award for his commitment to scientific cooperation and communication. Nobel laureate Glenn Seaborg was a judge of this contest for four decades.

"The Intel Science Talent Search is about finding better ways to do things, continuously asking why and, in the process, moving out the frontiers of knowledge," said Dr. Dudley Herschbach, Science Service's chairman of the board and a Nobel laureate in chemistry. "Within these forty young scientists lies the next great inventions and scientific achievements that will influence us in the 21st century."

Finalists were judged on their individual research reports for their research ability, scientific originality and creative thinking. All Intel Science Talent Search Finalists were reviewed and judged by top scientists from a variety of disciplines. The judging team was led by chair J. Richard Gott, Ph.D., professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University and second place Science Talent Search winner in 1965.

Intel Science Talent Search Background

Participation in the Science Talent Search has often served as a precursor to impressive accomplishments in the field of science. Statistics show that 95 percent of former STS winners have pursued a branch of science as their major field of study. More than 70 percent have gone on to earn Ph.D.s or M.D.s. Five of the former Finalists have won Nobel Prizes and two have earned Fields Medals, the highest mathematics award. Other Finalists have earned honors, including Sloan Research Fellowships and MacArthur Foundation Fellowships. Many have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences or the National Academy of Engineering.

Intel assumed sponsorship of this "national treasure" in 1998 from Westinghouse Electric Corporation. While safeguarding the traditions and heritage that have made the Science Talent Search such a prestigious competition, Intel is working closely with Science Service, the administrator of the STS since its inception, to increase the number of high school students and teachers involved, increase public awareness of the program, and infuse computer and Internet technology into the program as it moves into the 21st century.

Science Service is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., which for 75 years has promoted public understanding and appreciation of science through publications such as Science News, outreach and science education programs, including the Intel Science Talent Search and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. For more information on Science Service and the Intel Science Talent Search visit