‘Cracking the Code’ Wins Intel Science Talent Search for Math Whiz

Evan O’Dorney of Danville, Calif. Awarded $100,000 from Intel Foundation


  • The Intel Science Talent Search 2011, a program of Society for Science & the Public, announced its top 10 winners in Washington, D.C.
  • Winners received $630,000 in awards with the top winner, Evan O’Dorney, receiving $100,000 from the Intel Foundation.
  • The Intel Science Talent Search encourages America’s future leaders to satisfy their endless curiosity by exploring how the world works and developing solutions for global challenges.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — March 15, 2011 — Honoring high school seniors with exceptional promise in math and science, Intel Corporation and Society for Science & the Public (SSP) today announced the winners of America's most elite and demanding high school research competition, the Intel Science Talent Search.

Intel Science Talent Search, a program of Society for Science & the Public, announced its top three  ...

Intel Science Talent Search, a program of Society for Science & the Public, announced its top three winners, Evan O'Dorney, Michelle Hackman and Matthew Miller on March 15, 2011 in Washington, D.C. The winners represent America's best and brightest high school seniors with exceptional promise in math and science. (Photo: Business Wire)

Evan O’Dorney, 17, of Danville, Calif., won the top award of $100,000 from the Intel Foundation for his mathematical project in which he compared two ways to estimate the square root of an integer. Evan discovered precisely when the faster way would work. As a byproduct of Evan's research he solved other equations useful for encrypting data. This furthered an interest he developed as early as age 2, when he was checking math textbooks out of the library.

Second place honors and $75,000 went to Michelle Hackman, 17, of Great Neck, N.Y., who studied the effect of separating teenagers from their cell phones. In her personal life, Michelle, who is not sighted, launched a rural secondary school in Cambodia that benefits girls confronted with significant gender violence and sex trafficking.

Third place and $50,000 went to Matthew Miller, 18, of Elon, N.C., who studied how the placement of small bumps on the surface of wind turbine blades can dramatically affect their aerodynamics and increase their efficiency at generating electricity. Matthew is also senior class president, president of the National Honor Society and was invited by President Obama to be part of the first White House Science Fair last October.

“The creativity and leadership of these 40 Intel Science Talent Search mathematicians and scientists hold tremendous potential to move our country forward,” said Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini. “They are already addressing real-world problems like cancer treatment, disease prevention and national security. We need to identify the common characteristics that inspired these high school seniors to successfully revitalize math and science education nationwide.”

Other top honors from the competition include:

Fourth Place: Madeleine Ball, 18, of Dallas identified a previously unknown means of cholera transmission and received a $40,000 award.

Fifth Place: Selena Li, 17, of Fair Oaks, Calif. discovered a novel and more effective treatment for experimental liver cancer and received a $30,000 award.

Sixth Place: Keenan Monks, 17, of Hazelton, Penn. conducted research on a math equation that can help improve Internet security and cryptography and received a $25,000 award.

Seventh Place: Benjamin Clark, 15, of Lancaster, Penn. studied the frequency by which stars form binary systems and received a $25,000 award.

Eighth Place: Xiaoyu “Carrie” Cao, 17, of San Diego created a novel approach for developing scaffolds for nanoscale biosensors, which detects if there are toxins in the air, and received a $20,000 award.

Ninth Place: Jenny Liu, 18, of Orange, Conn. conducted a social robotics research project, which found that giving a robot realistic emotion significantly improves human-robot interaction, and received a $20,000 award.

Tenth Place: Scott Boisvert, 17, of Chandler, Ariz. investigated aquatic habitats and sought a link between water chemistry and the proliferation of a harmful fungus that is contributing to the decline of the amphibian population. He received a $20,000 award.

The remaining 30 finalists each received at least $7,500 in awards.

In total, the Intel Foundation awarded $1.25 million for the Intel Science Talent Search 2011. When the Intel Foundation assumed the title sponsorship 13 years ago, it increased the annual awards by more than $1 million in the belief that fostering a passion for math and science in today’s youth is imperative for America’s future success.

The Intel Science Talent Search encourages America’s future leaders to satisfy their endless curiosity by exploring how the world works and developing solutions for global challenges. This year's finalists hail from 15 states and represent 39 schools. Of the 1,744 high school seniors who entered the Intel Science Talent Search 2011, 300 were announced as semifinalists in January. Of those, 40 were chosen as finalists and invited to Washington, D.C., to compete for the top 10 awards.

Society for Science & the Public, a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education, has owned and administered the Science Talent Search since its inception in 1942. Over the past 69 years, Science Talent Search alumni have gone on to win seven Nobel Prizes, two Fields Medals, three National Medals of Science, 11 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and even an Academy Award for Best Actress.

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