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Life after science fair: Leveraging your success

The Alumni Panelists shared their experiences, expertise, and advice with an eager crowd at Intel ISEF 2015. PHOTOS COURTESY OF SOCIETY FOR SCIENCE & THE PUBLIC/LAURA SHAPOSHNIKOVA.

By Laura Shaposhnikova 

On Tuesday, May 12, 2015, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) was in full swing. Pittsburgh had graciously welcomed more than 1,700 finalists to the largest high school international science fair. 

Our Intel ISEF finalists did not fail to awe us with their high-quality research. Along with the chance to present their research and win nearly $4 million in awards, we wanted to provide inspiration to these students, so we invited alumni from previous ISEF’s to share their various experiences and motivate our finalists to continue on their path to success.

Alumni participating in the panel included:

  • Shantanu Gaur (Intel ISEF 2003-2004), founder of Allurion Technologies and Aegis Women’s Health Technologies.
  • Laura Herlant (Intel ISEF 2008), PhD candidate and robotics researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.
  • Vincent Howard (Intel ISEF 2003), PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and mechanical engineer for NASA/TASC.
  • Cecilia Lo (STS 1971), professor and chair of the Department of Developmental Biology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
  • Crystal Morrison (ISEF 1994), technology manager of the Corporate Science and Technology Group at PPG Industries.
  • Ryan Patterson (Intel ISEF 1999-2001, Intel STS 2002), senior electrical and computer engineer at Galvanic Engineering.
  • Bob Wisner (National Science Fair, 1958-1959 & STS 1960 Honors Group), now an electrical engineering consultant and director of the Connecticut Science Fair.

Bob Wisner, a 1958-1959 alumnus of ISEF’s early forerunner, the National Science Fair,  opened the panel. Bob began his science fair career as a 7th grade teeny-bopper. His accomplishments were far from teeny, however- Bob’s research and product development went on to produce 15 patents in the laser electronics field. 

Alumni panelists Shantanu Gaur (Intel ISEF 2003, 2004), Laura Herlant (Intel ISEF 2008), and Vincent Howard (Intel ISEF 2003) shared a laugh with the audience while discussing how Intel ISEF helped lead them to their illustrious career paths. 


Finalists were enocuraged to line up to ask their many future-focused questions.

Throughout the room, finalists were eagerly taking notes from our panel of witty, successful alumni. We can’t wait to see what these amazing 2015 finalists have in store in the future!

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