Davidson Fellows - 2006

Sixteen 2006 Davidson Fellows were recognized for their achievements at a special awards reception sponsored by U.S. Senators Harry Reid and Chuck Grassley in Washington, D.C. on September 27, 2006.

2006 Davidson Fellow Laureates

Heather Engebretson, 16
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Category: Music
Project Title: Music as Universal Communication
Scholarship: $50,000

A 16-year-old young woman from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Heather Engebretson views music as a method of communication and a tool for social progress. Heather’s portfolio, “Music as Universal Communication,” is a collection of vocal pieces showcasing her range from musical theater to operatic arias, highlighting both the intricacy of language and the temporal aspects of music. She earned first place in the Regional National Association of Teachers of Singing, the Mississippi Symphony Young Artist’s Competition, the PRIDE Talent Search and won Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music scholarship. Heather played the violin in appearances on NPR’s “From the Top” and with the Interlochen Intermediate Divisional Symphony Orchestra.

Shivani Sud, 16
Durham, North Carolina
Category: Science
Project Title: "HIV-1 Tat and IGK-Chain Secretion Based Protein Transduction: A Novel Strategy for Molecule Delivery"
Scholarship: $50,000

16-year-old young woman from Durham, North Carolina, Shivani Sud developed a technology to deliver chemotherapeutic molecules to cancerous cells with increased efficiency. Her findings can assist with more efficient drug delivery by overcoming cell membrane barriers, one of the greatest challenges facing conventional chemotherapy. Through protein transduction, Shivani developed a drug delivery system focused on an amino acid region of the HIV-1 Tat protein that allows larger medicinal molecules to pass into the cell. Particularly relevant to controlling tumors in areas where surgery is not an option, this research can help combat cancer and infectious diseases through more effective chemotherapy treatments.

Michael Viscardi, 17
San Diego, California
Category: Mathematics
Project Title: “On the Solution of the Dirichlet Problem with Rational Holomorphic Boundary Data”
Scholarship: $50,000

A 17-year-old young man from San Diego, California, Michael Viscardi solved the Dirichlet problem with rational holomorphic boundary data. The Dirichlet problem was originally formulated in the 19th century to study the thermal equilibrium of a heated metal plate. Today, Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied to airplane wing design on airfoils, the two-dimensional cross-sections of the wings. Michael developed a formula providing an exact, explicit solution and, using four seemingly unrelated mathematical concepts, proved a new theorem which extends previous results in two dimensions. Michael’s work can potentially aid in next generation aircraft design, aerodynamics, medical imaging, astronomy, heat flow and fluid dynamics.

2006 Davidson Fellows

Stephanie Chen, 17
Austin, Texas
Category: Music
Project Title: “A Musical Painting”
Scholarship: $25,000

A 17-year-old young woman from Austin, Texas, Stephanie Chen is dedicated to making a difference in the world through music’s power to unite. Capturing the audience’s hearts and imagination, Stephanie explores each piece in her piano portfolio, “A Musical Painting,” by creating images in her mind and then, in her performance, conveying this passion to the audience. She was named a Young Master by the Texas Commission on the Arts and in 2006 Stephanie won the 14th Annual International Fredrick Chopin Piano Competition.

Kyle Dacuyan, 16
Sterling, Virginia
Category: Literature
Project Title: “What Have You Been, Where Have You Gone Musical Painting”
Scholarship: $25,000

A 16-year-old young man from Sterling, Virginia, Kyle Dacuyan illustrates he is able to empathize with other viewpoints throughout his portfolio entitled, “What Have You Been, Where Have You Gone.” Comprised of short stories, poems and nonfiction, Kyle’s work examines familial relationships, complexities and oddities. Kyle’s portfolio includes an unflinchingly honest look at pride, love and social class that shows exceptional courage and insight. Through interior monologues, Kyle’s insight into deeply personal relationships pushes readers to consider perspectives other than their own.

Sheela Krishnan, 17
Suffern, New York
Category: Science
Project Title: “Foulbrood Isolation and Characterization of a Potential Probiotic Cocktail for the Control of American Foulbrood in Domestic Honeybees”
Scholarship: $25,000

A 17-year-old young woman from Suffern, New York, Sheela Krishnan analyzed Paenibacillus larvae, the bacterium that causes American Foulbrood Disease (AFB), a fatal disease that attacks honeybee larvae. Sheela used the antimicrobial properties from the bees’ honeystomachs to create a safe, non-invasive and inexpensive preventative measure to protect honeybees in vivo from AFB. Because honeybees are critical to the pollination of flowering plants, including agricultural crops valued at billions of dollars per year, their continued survival is essential to ecosystems and economies worldwide.

Varun Kumar, 17
Bellaire, Texas
Category: Science
Project Title: “Novel Properties in Europium DOTA - tetraamide Complex for use in MRI Contrast Agents”
Scholarship: $25,000

A 17-year-old young man from Bellaire, Texas, Varun Kumar determined how to improve diagnostics in the field of medicine through more effective magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Varun researched and built compounds that could be used to form a new class of MRI contrast agents, responsive to proteins instead of water concentration. By showing the distribution of proteins throughout a living system, these new agents could add a powerful dimension to MRI. The implications of Varun’s research could provide a more comprehensive and less invasive form of diagnosis in almost every field of medicine.

Adam Solomon, 16
Bellmore, New York
Category: Science
Project Title: “The Effects of Age on Brown Dwarf Spectral Features in the Near-Infrared”
Scholarship: $25,000

A 16-year-old young man from Bellmore, New York, Adam Solomon studied the optical and near-infrared spectra of brown dwarfs, celestial bodies that resemble stars but emit little light because they are too small to ignite the central fusion of hydrogen. By looking at near-infrared spectral signatures that seem to be caused by low pressure, Adam created an analytical tool for estimating a brown dwarf’s age and mass. Adam’s research can help unlock clues about stellar evolution and formation, the history of our galaxy, and the formation of planetary systems.

Yi Sun, 17
San Jose, California
Category: Mathematics
Project Title: “On the Expected Winding Number of a Random Walk on the Unit Lattice”
Scholarship: $25,000

A 17-year-old young man from San Jose, California, Yi Sun applied combinatorial mathematics to derive a formula for the expected winding number of a random walk on a unit lattice. Yi’s work characterizes the tendency associated with random walks, or taking successive steps in random directions. When this research is applied to the growth of polymers, scientists can predict how many times the polymer will coil around an obstacle, or rod, thus, indicating the strength of the polymer. This research can be used in physics, computer science and material science.

Travis Johnson, 13
Milwaukie, Oregon
Category: Music
Project Title: “Trails of Hope: The Importance of Adding New Music to the Classical Repertoire”
Scholarship: $10,000

A 13-year-old young man from Milwaukie, Oregon, Travis Johnson has been studying classical guitar since he was 8. His portfolio entitled “Trails of Hope: The Importance of Adding New Music to the Classical Repertoire” includes an original piece composed by a music professor specifically for Travis, titled Boppin’. He has performed at the Northwest Guitar Festival, and as a soloist with both the Portland Festival Symphony and Marylhurst Symphony. In 2005, Travis won the Guitar Foundation of America’s First Annual National Youth Solo Guitar Competition.

Drew Petersen, 12
Oradell, New Jersey
Category: Music
Project Title: “Keeping Classical Music Alive”
Scholarship: $10,000

A 12-year-old young man from Ordell, New Jersey, Drew Petersen believes that if he can reach an audience through his piano performances, he will inspire them to become more active and engaged listeners in all areas of their lives. Drew currently attends the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division, and has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. In 2005, Drew won the Manhattan School of Music Concerto Competition and has been a featured performer on NPR’s “From the Top.”

Albert Shieh, 16
Paradise Valley, Arizona
Category: Science
Project Title: “A Novel Algorithm for Automated SNP Genotyping”
Scholarship: $10,000

A 16-year-old young man from Paradise Valley, Arizona, Albert Shieh created a computational tool used to analyze genetic sequence variability in humans. Albert’s novel, dataset-specific clustering algorithm will result in a better understanding of gene linkages on chromosomes using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP), or the DNA sequence variations that occur when a single nucleotide in the genome sequence is altered. By assigning biological meaning to numerical data, this technology holds promise to find the genetic basis for Alzheimer’s disease, autism and bipolar disorder with highly targeted, personalized treatments.

Anna Stalker, 15
Birmingham, Alabama
Category: Literature
Project Title: “The Reincarnation Journals”
Scholarship: $10,000

A 15-year-old young woman from Birmingham, Alabama, Anna Stalker addresses the persistent search for truth through different literary expressions and experiences in her portfolio, “The Reincarnation Journals.” Anna’s separate narratives are bound by recurring symbols and ideas, blending to ultimately become one story told from many perspectives. In imagistic works, the author explores the search for truth and beauty through depictions of human interaction and the interactions of the larger cosmos. When Anna’s individual pieces are gathered, a larger meaning emerges.

Anarghya Vardhana, 17
Beaverton, Oregon
Category: Mathematics
Project Title: “Novel Method of Computing Jacobi Symbols for Mersenne Numbers”
Scholarship: $10,000

A 17-year-old young woman from Beaverton, Oregon, Anarghya Vardhana worked in the field of number theory to develop new starting values for the Lucas-Lehmer primality test. Her theorem can be used to further understand Mersenne primes and their properties through simple and efficient computation of Jacobi symbols. By allowing for easy computation, Anarghya’s method can directly contribute to the pharmaceutical, chemical, materials, financial and information technology industries. Her theory also has broad implications in cryptography, specifically enhancing encryption systems to protect against identity theft.

Cindy Wang, 17
Geneva, Illinois
Category: Science
Project Title: “nm2608A, A New Naturally Arising Mouse Model for Human Autosomal Recessive Achromatopsia 2”
Scholarship: $10,000

A 17-year-old young woman from Geneva, Illinois, Xin Wang identified a gene responsible for complete colorblindness in mice. By measuring the electrical activity on the surface of the mouse eye, called electroretinography, and mapping the mouse DNA, Xin isolated the mutation on the gene Cnga3 responsible for colorblindness and the protein acting as the biochemical component. Spanning genetics and ophthalmology, her results may one day be used to help people with achromatopsia 2, the most severe form of colorblindness, in which people can only see in shades of gray.

Steven Wu, 15
Folsom, California
Category: Science
Project Title: “Optimizing Quadrupole Ion Trap Geometry by Computer Simulations”
Scholarship: $10,000

A 15-year-old young man from Folsom, California, Steven Wu developed a method to optimize quadrupole ion traps which sort ions by their mass-to-charge ratio using mass spectrometry for molecular analysis. Steven designed a computer simulation algorithm that produces superior results when compared with the current commercial software in terms of better simulation of ion movement due to more accurate electrical field data.

2006 Davidson Fellows Press Kit Materials

Davidson Fellows Reception at the Library of Congress in September 2006
Video - 2006 Davidson Fellows Reception (YouTube)
National News Release
Davidson Fellows' Positive Contributions to Society
News Articles

2006 Davidson Fellow Honorable Mentions

Miss Valerie Hsiung
Cincinnati, Ohio
They Came To Stay

Mr. Spencer Lenfield
Paw Paw, Michigan
Beyond Sound and Fury: Writing in the Shadow of Faulkner

Miss Subha Perni
West Bloomfield, Michigan
Parched in the Desert of the Real

Miss Patricia Sazani
Lompoc, California
Farewell to Tadpoles

Mr. Stephen Feigenbaum
Winchester, Massachusettes
Affirmations of Hope: Extending Traditions

Miss Harriet Langley
Scarsdale, New York
J.S. Bach; L.V. Beethoven; E. Chausson; H. Wieniawski

Mr. Nico Olarte-Hayes
Plainsboro, New Jersey
Reflexiones del Alma

Miss Caeli Smith
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Beyond the Mozart Effect: Reaching Out With Classical Music

Mr. Alexei Tartakovski
Feasterville Trevose, Pennsylvania
Music - The Great Communicator

Mr. Joseph Tsai
Northridge, California
Beyond the Notes

Miss Abbie Groff
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Electricity Generation Using Microbial Fuel Cells

Miss Anna Jolene Mork
Seattle, Washington
A Tale of Two Plants: Comparative Autofluorescence in a Unicellular to a Multicellular Species

Miss Nancy Satsangi
San Antonio, Texas
A Novel Regeneration Device For Enhanced Biomimetic Response of Osteoblast Progenitors

Mr. Ethan Sperry
Terre Haute, Indiana
A Molecular Analysis of Variation Within A Controlled Population of White-Tailed Deer

Mr. Sujay Tyle
Pittsford, New York
Direct Biomass Conversion to Ethanol for Alternative Fuel Development: A Molecular Cloning Approach

Mr. Sheel Tyle
Pittsford, New York
The Impact of Muller Cell Reactivity Durning Retinal Degeneration

Miss Roopa Varadarajan
Florence, South Carolina
Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein-5 Gene Expression in Lens Cells Treated With Glucocorticoid

Mr. Naren Velez
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Production of Bodies from Different Source Materials and its Effect on Engine Performance

Mr. David Ying
Miami, Florida
Meristem-Tip Culture Boosts Yield of Sweet Potato, CV Picadita

Miss Emily Zhao
Terre Haute, Indiana
Relationships of Protein Essentiality in Protein Interaction Networks Using Mathematics


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