Intel ISEF was a whirlwind of events, presentations, press and awards. One month later, 12 students found themselves traveling in the name of science yet again. These young researchers won an all-expense-paid trip to visit the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and had the opportunity to share their passion with world-class scientists based there in Switzerland. The experience will fuel the students to continue delving into the world of research, collaborating with their peers and striving for a better future.
Jared Tramontano, 15, from Corona, California, has been chasing his curiosity for as long as he can remember. Tramontano shared his thoughts about his Intel ISEF and CERN experience below:
Can you give us a short description of your Intel ISEF project?
In my project, I reformulated the notion of a topological homeomorphism between manifolds to encompass fractal-like manifolds. If you think of a homeomorphism as stretching or shrinking some arbitrary "blob" of material, then topology is essentially the study of objects which can be deformed into each other, without cutting them. I wanted to study manifolds that are not locally Euclidean (not like an object you can see in the natural world) and how we can deform these objects.
How did you feel when you won the CERN trip?
Naturally, I was quite pleasantly surprised when my name was announced for the CERN trip. I had spent countless hours on my project, and this award was truly the one I was shooting for. So, to have a year's worth of strenuous work pay off was, well, satisfying.
What were your expectations of CERN before your trip?
Truth be told, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. However, I have two friends that had previously won the CERN trip, so I consulted them. Their opinions? Unanimously positive. Though, I was sure that the experience at CERN would be one without precedent...it was. Never have I experienced such thought provoking conversation with such intelligent peers.
What was the highlight of your trip?
Asking one to decide what the highlight of CERN was parallels asking one to chop a gold nugget off of a solid gold brick and proceed in asking them why that piece is shinier than the rest of the brick. CERN was a golden experience of this sort. I enjoyed all aspects of the trip, from LHCb and CMS [experiments collecting data at the Large Hadron Collider], to the tourist locations and food of Geneva and France.
How have these Intel ISEF and CERN experiences enhanced your research curiosity and future goals?
Intel ISEF and, consequently, the CERN trip were the first instances of recognition for my research. They validated it. They gave meaning to it. They gave me the feeling of "Hey, maybe I'm not quite crazy. Maybe I'm actually contributing to my field of research."
The trip to CERN has definitely inspired me to continue my work. In fact, next year's research project was conjured up on a bus ride at CERN.
Read more student accounts of the CERN trip
View the list of organizations offering special awards at Intel ISEF