Middle School Student Researches the Sun’s Power to affect Cyclones; Wins $25,000 Top Award in the National Broadcom MASTERS Competition

2017 Broadcom MASTERS Awards $100,000 in Prizes

WASHINGTON, DC (October 24, 2017) — Broadcom Foundation and Society for Science & the Public (the Society) today announced that Faris Irwin Wald, 15, Santa Fe, NM, won the coveted Samueli Foundation Prize, the top award in the Broadcom MASTERS®, the nation’s premier science and engineering competition for middle school students.  Thirty finalists, including Faris, took home a total of $100,000 in awards.  They were honored during an awards dinner for their achievements in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration.

The Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars), a program founded and produced by the Society for Science & the Public, encourages middle school students to translate their personal interests into a passion for STEM by participation in science fairs, which inspires them to continue their studies throughout high school and college and enter STEM careers. In addition to showcasing their projects for the public, the 30 finalists also completed a rigorous competition that tested their STEM knowledge as well as their critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration skills.

“Congratulations to Faris, whose impressive project has the potential to help us better understand the sun’s power to influence weather, such as cyclones,” said Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and Publisher of Science News. “Now, more than ever, it is critical that we support our young scientists and cultivate their interest in STEM so that they can go on and solve many of our world’s most intractable problems.”

“It is a thrill to celebrate the achievements of these young men and women who competed their hearts out in complex STEM challenges in the Broadcom MASTERS this week. Many of their interests touch on saving our planet and improving the lives of others, and Faris exemplifies their collective commitment as a generation, deserving top honors for his achievements in team leadership and STEM aptitude,” said Paula Golden, President of the Broadcom Foundation. “Faris and his colleagues in the Broadcom MASTERS Class of 2017 now join a very special cohort of alumni who are poised to change our world for the better.”

Faris Wald, 15, Santa Fe, NM, won the $25,000 Prize, for his overall mastery of science and engineering as well as for his project, which found a correlation between coronal holes and cyclones. Faris has always been curious about the strength of the sun’s power and its effect on our planet, which prompted him to analyze data related to sunspot and coronal hole events. The prize is a gift of Dr. Henry Samueli, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation and Chair of the Broadcom Foundation and his wife, Dr. Susan Samueli, President of the Samueli Foundation.

Emily Tianshi, 14, San Diego, CA, won the $20,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement, which recognizes the student whose work and performance shows the most promise in health-related fields. A Californian, Emily is concerned about the drought and its effects on our population as well as the environment.  Emily’s project examines Torrey Pine needles – a tree that grows in an area of California that has been having a long drought, but still gets enough water to survive. Emily hopes that by learning more about the pine needles, future technology could mimic the Torrey Pines’ moisture-harvesting mechanism, helping people cope better with droughts.

Meghna Behari, 14, Sewickley, PA, won the $10,000 Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation, an honor made possible by Samueli’s generous donation of his 2012 Marconi Society Prize Award.  Finding that current water testing methods are inefficient, Meghna developed the “Aquabot,” an automated testing device that can wirelessly collect and transmit data on water quality.

Helen Lyons, 14, New York, NY, won the $7,500 Lemelson Award for Invention, awarded by The Lemelson Foundation to a young inventor creating promising solutions to real-world problems. Through her project, Helen investigated a renewable energy technology, specifically generating electricity using Faraday’s law of electromagnetic induction. 

Broadcom MASTERS winners were chosen from the 30 finalists (15 girls and 15 boys) selected from 2,499 applicants in 37 states, Puerto Rico and the Department of Defense overseas. Winners were selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, engineers and educators. Each finalist’s school will receive $1,000 from the Broadcom MASTERS to benefit their science program.

In addition to the top prizes, the Broadcom Foundation and the Society also announced first and second place winners in each of the STEM categories of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, the Team Award and two Rising Stars who will be the U.S. delegates at the Broadcom MASTERS International and official observers to Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

Winners Include:

The Samueli Foundation Prize: $25,000
Faris Irwin Wald
Project: The Correlation Between Solar Coronal Hole Occurrences and the Formation of Tropical and Extra-Tropical Cyclones

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement: $20,000
Emily Tianshi
Project: Microscopic Study of Torrey Pine Needles for Moisture Condensation

Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation: $10,000
Meghna Behari
ProjectAquabot: An Integrated Modular Platform for Testing and Monitoring Surface Water Quality

Lemelson Award for Invention: $7,500
Helen Lyons
Project: Using Flotation Systems to Harness Wave Power Using Electromagnetism

STEM Award Winners:
First and second place winners of STEM Awards demonstrated acumen and promise in science, technology, engineering and math. First place winners were awarded $3,500 and second place winners receive $2,500 to support his or her choice of a STEM summer camp experience in the U.S. Each STEM Award winner also received an iPad.

Science Award:

  • First place: Pujita Tangirala, Los Gatos, CA, A Green, Low-Cost Adsorbent for the Removal of Dye from Aqueous Solutions
  • Second place: Jessie Gan, San Diego, CA, Natural Antioxidant and Nano-Antioxidant Effects Against Oxidative Stress

Technology Award:

  • First place: Herin Kang, Los Gatos, CA, Energy Efficient Oxygen Generator Using Micro Algae as an Alternative to Window Ventilation
  • Second place: Anthony Hill, Holladay, UT, No Pressure: The Effects of Martian-Like Atmospheric Pressure on Enzyme Catalyzed Reactions in Plants

Engineering Award:

  • First place: Andrew Chiang, San Jose, CA, Manipulation of Ultrasonic Force Field
  • Second place: Spencer Green, Huntington Beach, CA, The Sonification of Accelerometers for the Training of Elite Gymnasts

Mathematics Award:

  • First place: Zoe Gotthold, Richland, WA, A Novel Method for the Efficient Determination of Long-Term Emulsion Stability
  • Second place: Sara L. Kaufman, Cooper City, FL, The Effects of Wind Mitigation Devices on Gabled Roofs

Rising Stars Award:
In recognition of their promise as the youngest competitors, two Rising Stars win a trip to Pittsburgh in May 2018 as the United States delegate to Broadcom MASTERS International and Official Observer at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world’s largest international high school science fair competition.

  • Mithra Karamchedu, Portland, OR, Remote Sensing the Ablation or Accumulation of a Glacier by Using Fractal Analysis on Glacier Images
  • Regan Williams, Wilmington, NC, Marsh Attacks: Context-Dependent Effects of Intraspecific Trait Variation in a Marsh Ecosystem Predator-Prey Interaction

Team Award:
Each member of the team that best demonstrates their ability to work together and solve problems through shared decision making, communication and scientific and engineering collaboration will receive an iPod Touch.

  • Andrew Chiang, Arjun Moorthy, Zoe Gotthold, Regan Williams, Mithra Karamchedu

Scott A. McGregor Leadership Award:
Finalists select one student from the group based on their leadership abilities to represent their class as a speaker at the awards ceremony.

  • Arjun Moorthy

For more information on the Broadcom MASTERS, visit the Broadcom Foundation and Society websites. To keep up with the Broadcom MASTERS, use hashtag #brcmMASTERS or follow Broadcom Foundation and Society for Science & the Public on Twitter or Society for Science & the Public on Instagram. And to stay connected, visit the Broadcom MASTERS and Society for Science & the Public Facebook pages. You can also follow the Society on Snapchat (Society4Science).

About Broadcom Foundation:
Founded in April 2009, the Broadcom Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with its main mission to advance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education by funding research, recognizing scholarship and increasing opportunity.

The foundation inspires young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through its signature programs, the Broadcom MASTERS® and the Broadcom MASTERS® International, premier science and engineering competitions for middle school students around the United States and the world. The foundation is a founding member of the STEM Funders Network and the National STEM Ecosystem initiative. It sponsors premier academic workshops in partnership with select universities on three continents.

Learn more at www.broadcomfoundation.org/masters and follow us on Twitter (@BroadcomSTEM) and Snapchat (Brcm_Foundation).

About Society for Science & the Public
Society for Science & the Public is dedicated to the achievement of young scientists in independent research and to public engagement in science. Established in 1921, the Society is a nonprofit whose vision is to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. Through its world-class competitions, including the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and the Broadcom MASTERS, and its award-winning magazine, Science News and Science News for Students, Society for Science & the Public is committed to inform, educate, and inspire. Learn more at www.societyforscience.org and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Snapchat (Society4Science).

Society for Science & the Public Press Contact: 
Gayle Kansagor