17-year-old girl exploring algae as biofuel wins Intel science competition

The nation's most prestigious science competition for high school students awarded $1.25 million in 2013.
Written by Laura Shin, Contributor

Sara Volz of Colorado Springs, Colo., won the Intel Science Talent Search, the nation's most prestigious high school science competition, for her experiments with algae as a biofuel and will take home a prize of $100,000. Other finalists from among the other 39 high school finalists won prizes totaling $530,000.

Algae is a promising biofuel but still quite costly to produce. Volz (shown above, center) used artificial selection to create populations of algae cells with high oil content to produce a more economically feasible biofuel. And memorably, she cultivated the algae under her loft bed.

Second prize, worth $75,000, went to Jonah Kallenbach (above, left), 17, of Ambler, Pa., whose project in bioinformatics could lead to new treatments for diseases such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer and tuberculosis.

Third prize, worth $50,000, went to Adam Bowman (above, right), 17, of Brentwood, Tenn., for his work on less expensive ways to produce plasmas that could be useful in fields such as semiconductor manufacturing and nuclear physics.

The three won from more than 1,700 entries in this year's competition. Seven alumni of the competition have won Nobel Prizes and 11 have received MacArthur "genius" awards.

Related on SmartPlanet:

via: press release, New York Times

photo: Courtesy of Intel

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards