Indian American girl wins ‘Junior Nobel’

By Parveen Chopra, IANS

New York : Shivani Sud, an Indian American high school student, has won the top prize at the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search contest in the US, dubbed the ‘Junior Nobel’, for her project on cancer.

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The 17-year-old resident of Durham, North Carolina, was Tuesday declared the grand prize winner for 2008 in Washington DC. She will get a $100,000 scholarship from the Intel Foundation.

Past winners of the competition have gone on to receive over 100 of the world’s most coveted science and math honours, including six Nobel prizes.

Shivani’s winning project turns to bioinformatics and genomics to identify stage-II colon cancer patients at high risk for recurrence and the best therapeutic agents for treating their tumours.

Shivani developed an interest in cancer research after doctors saved an immediate family member diagnosed with brain tumour.

In the final round in Washington, she told a TV interviewer: “We were asked some challenging questions regarding our projects”. She said she was looking forward to meeting, along with other contest finalists, President George W. Bush and some senators on Capitol Hill.

Elizabeth Marincola, president of the Society for Science and the Public, which administers the competition, said: “We are proud to join with Intel in congratulating Shivani Sud and all of this year’s finalists. We are inspired by their dedication to science and are encouraged by what the quality and depth of their work foretells for our continued innovation and economic prosperity.”

In 2006, Shivani had received a $50,000 scholarship from Davidson Institute for Talent Development.

Daughter of Ish and Anu Sud, she is a student of Charles E. Jordan High School with multifarious interests, including classical and modern Indian dance.

She plans to attend Princeton or Harvard, earn an M.D. or a Ph.D. and make a career in research.

Besides Shivani, nine other students won lesser prizes ranging from $20,000 to $75,000.

They were picked from 40 finalists announced last month in a competition that attracted over 1,600 high school seniors.

All the remaining 30 finalists received $5,000 scholarships and a laptop from Intel.

Among them were seven Indian American students, including four girls: Avanthi Raghavan, Shravani Mikkilineni, Hamsa Sridhar, Isha Jain, Vinay Venkatesh Ramasesh, Ashok Chandran and Ayon Sen.

“A high proportion of Indian-American finalists speaks well for the community, and we welcome their participation,” said Rick Bates, a spokesperson for the contest organisers.

“These 40 students show what American youth can do when they are encouraged to study math and science,” said Intel chairman Craig Barrett.

The competition, now in its 67th year, has been sponsored by the Intel Corporation for the last 10 years.