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President Obama Praises the Next Generation of Scientists
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 27, 2014 — Eight Society for Science & the Public (SSP) science fair alumni attended the fourth White House Science Fair today where President Obama honored winners of the nation’s top science competitions and viewed their award-winning projects.
All eight students were participants in at least one of SSP’s prestigious science education programs, including the Intel Science Talent Search, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and the Broadcom MASTERS. The students invited to participate were Eric Chen, 18, of San Diego, CA; Laura Herman, 18, of Fort Lauderdale, FL; Connor Klemenhagen, 18, of Dayton, MN; Henry Lin, 18, of Shreveport, LA; Anne Merrill, 17, of Old Greenwich, CT; Zarin Rahman, 17, of Brookings, SD; Elana Simon, 18, of New York, NY; and Brenna Wallin, 13, of Lexington, KY.
“By honoring and publicizing the dedication, hard work, and scientific acumen of these students, President Obama will inspire young people across the country to become involved in STEM fields as they look to solve the problems they see and make the world a better place,” said Rick Bates, interim CEO of Society for Science & the Public. “Congratulations to all of the students selected to attend this prestigious event! We are especially proud of the SSP alumni invited and look forward to seeing where their research leads them in the future.”
Several student participants, including Chen and Simon, got to present their work to President Obama. Lin and Merrill also had the opportunity to exhibit their projects at the White House. In addition, Herman, Rahman, Sanders, and Wallin were invited to attend a Girls in STEM discussion with senior administration officials and White House senior leadership.
The SSP Alumni Participants
Chen was the top winner of the Intel Science Talent Search 2014 and a multi-year finalist at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. His most recent project identified new drug candidates for the treatment of influenza. His novel approach combined computer modeling with structure-activity relationships and biological validation to identify new, potent, and structurally diverse endonuclease inhibitors.
Klemenhagen was a finalist in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2013 for his project on the ecological development of turfgrass mixtures to reduce irrigated water consumption.
Lin received one of two Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards of $50,000 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2013. By simulating thousands of clusters of galaxies, Henry has provided scientists with valuable new data, allowing them to better understand the mysteries of astrophysics: dark matter, dark energy and the balance of heating and cooling in the universe's most massive objects. In 2012, Henry’s project on cosmic accelerated expansion won him a trip to tour CERN, among other awards.
Merrill was a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search 2014 for her project exploring natural, non-chemical methods for suppressing soil-borne diseases. Her research focused on how biochars, a charcoal-like material created by burning organic waste materials to sequester carbon, can be integrated into topsoil by earthworm bioturbation (the burrowing and digestion of soil). Her results suggest that combining the natural methods of earthworm bioturbation with biochars in soil may help reduce carbon emissions, prevent the spread of plant-borne E. coli and increase agricultural yields.
Rahman won seventh place at the Intel Science Talent Search 2014 for her project studying the effects of electronic screen exposure on adolescent sleep patterns, stress and academic performance. Because the maturing brain is especially vulnerable to stressors, Rahman believes her research may flag excessive electronic activity among adolescents as a public health concern. She also won a Third Award in behavioral and social sciences at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2014, a Best of Category Award in behavioral and social sciences at the Intel ISEF 2013, and a Second Award in 2012 for her research into the adolescent brain.
Wallin was a finalist in the Broadcom MASTERS 2013. Her project focused on the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster which leaked radiation into the Pacific Ocean. She tested and compared cesium 137 levels in wild-caught Pacific sockeye salmon and farm-raised Atlantic salmon, hypothesizing that because the plume of radiation from Fukushima intersected the migratory routes of the Pacific sockeye salmon, it would have more ionizing radiation.
Other SSP Alumni Attending:
• Laura Herman – Intel Science Talent Search 2014 semifinalist
• Elana Simon – Intel Science Talent Search 2014 semifinalist
Society for Science & the Public (SSP) is one of the nation’s oldest non-profit membership organizations dedicated to public engagement in science and science education. Established in 1921, SSP is a leading advocate for the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. Through its acclaimed education competitions, including the Intel Science Talent Search, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and the Broadcom MASTERS, and its award-winning publications, Science News and Science News for Students, Society for Science & the Public is committed to inform, educate, and inspire.
For more information about SSP and its work, please visit societyforscience.org or follow SSP on Facebook: www.facebook.com/societyforscience and through Twitter: www.twitter.com/Society4Science. Become a member of the Society at www.societyforscience.org/join.
About Broadcom MASTERS
Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars), a program of Society for Science & the Public sponsored by Broadcom Foundation, is the premier national science, technology, engineering and math competition for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. It recognizes 300 top middle school students as semifinalists each year, with 30 named as finalists and invited to attend a week in Washington, DC in October where they participate in final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable dignitaries, and compete for many awards, including the top award of $25,000. Broadcom MASTERS inspires and encourages young scientists, engineers and innovators to become college and career-ready by continuing their STEM studies into high school and beyond. For more information, please visit https://student.societyforscience.org/broadcom-masters.
About the Intel Science Talent Search
The Intel Science Talent Search, a program of Society for Science & the Public, is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition. Alumni of the program have made extraordinary contributions to science and hold more than 100 of the world’s most distinguished science and math honors, including eight Nobel Prizes. The Intel Science Talent Search recognizes 300 students as semifinalists each year. From that select pool, 40 student finalists are invited to Washington, DC in March to participate in final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists, and compete for the top award of $100,000. For more information, please visit
About the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science & thePublic, is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair provides a forum for more than 1,700 high school students from more than 70 countries, regions, and territories to showcase their independent research annually. Each year, millions of students worldwide compete in local science fairs; winners go on to participate in affiliated regional, state and national fairs to earn the opportunity to attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The competition provides the opportunity for finalists to display their talent on an international stage, while enabling them to submit their work for judging by doctoral-level scientists. The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair provides more than $5 million in prizes and scholarships annually. For more information, please visit https://student.societyforscience.org/intel-isef.
Contact: Sarah Wood