Davidson Fellows - 2008

2008 Davidson Fellow Laureates

$50,000 Scholarship Recipients

    Akhil Mathew

    Age: 16

    Madison, New Jersey

    Category: Mathematics

    In his project, “Translation – Invariant Binary Representations,” Akhil worked on a problem involving the encoding of real numbers into zero-one sequences without reference to an origin. He proved a single filter, or system of weights, can decode only a finite number of rationals. Using analysis and number theory, he connected the representable rationals of one filter with the zeros of its Fourier transform. He also generalized his results to higher dimensions by extending a theorem of Szegö to matrices. Akhil’s work is relevant to signal processing, analog-to-digital conversion and representing numbers in an alternative way.

    Sikandar Porter-Gill

    Age: 17

    Gaithersburg, Maryland

    Category: Science

    In his project, “The Production of Methane in a Two-Chamber Bio-Catalyzed Microbial Fuel Cell Utilizing Methanosarcina barkeri,” Sikandar developed a novel process to clean wastewater and produce methane for use as an alternative form of energy. He engineered bio-catalyzed microbial fuel cells in a two-chamber design, connected with a proton conducting membrane, to degrade organic material in wastewater and produce methane, the principal component of natural gas. Sikandar’s research is a promising step toward pursuing a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly energy source.

    Christine Shrock

    Age: 17

    Setauket, New York

    Category: Science

    In her project, “Investigating an Allosteric Binding Site for a New Class of HIV-1 Protease Inhibitors,” Christine developed an approach to finding a more effective HIV treatment. She studied a region of the HIV protease, a protein crucial in the replication of HIV, and found that this region is a promising target for drugs to bind to change the shape of the protease, preventing it from performing its function. Christine’s research is an important contribution to the development of a new class of drugs to reduce the number of infections and deaths caused by HIV. 

    Philip Streich

    Age: 17

    Platteville, Wisconsin

    Category: Science

    In his project, “Determining Carbon Nanotube Thermodynamic Solubility: The Missing Link to a Practical Supermaterial?”, Philip showed that carbon nanotubes, among the strongest and most conductive materials in the world, are thermodynamically soluble, contradicting the generally held assumption that they were universally insoluble. Using the Debye light scattering theory, Philip determined the Flory Huggins parameter to calculate solubility. To accurately detect the light scattered, he designed and custom-built a unique photon-counting spectrometer, more sensitive and precise than any commercially available. Philip’s work has broad applications in the field of nanotechnology engineering. 

    Conrad Tao

    Age: 14

    New York, New York

    Category: Music

    In his project, “Bridging Classical Music from the Past to the Future as Pianist and Composer,” Conrad keeps classical music relevant to younger generations through his performances that display a vast knowledge, deep understanding and mature interpretation of the repertoire. A composer, pianist and violinist attending The Juilliard Pre-College Division, he has been featured on NPR’s “From the Top,” performed at Carnegie Hall and has received five consecutive American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. 


    2008 Davidson Fellows

    $25,000 Scholarship Recipients

    Michael Cherkassky

    Age: 16

    Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Category: Technology

    In his project, “Application of Machine Learning Methods to Medical Diagnosis,” Michael applied computer machine learning methods to computer-aided medical diagnosis. He compared the application of several machine learning methods to real-life medical data sets in order to understand the generalization capability of the estimated models, advancing the current predictive diagnostic model. Michael also compared the diagnostic accuracy of two classification methods, allowing physicians to obtain more accurate diagnostic conclusions while advancing patient care.

    Hilda Huang

    Age: 12

    Palo Alto, California

    Category: Music

    In her project, “I Love Bach,” Hilda is determined to change the way people feel about Johann Sebastian Bach. Performing on the harpsichord and piano, Hilda aims to bring Bach to everyone, especially young people who may be unfamiliar with his music. Hilda hopes to start a series of “I Love Bach” concerts all over the world to fulfill her mission. Her many accomplishments include performances on NPR’s “From the Top” and at Carnegie Hall. Hilda attends the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Preparatory Division. 

    Jasmine Miller

    Age: 17

    Nashville, Tennessee

    Category: Literature 

    In her project, “The Digital Identity of Contradiction,” Jasmine examines her generation’s interactions with technology, as well as the impact of digital media on our identities. Consisting of a one-act play, creative essays, and a novel excerpt, Jasmine’s portfolio is an expedition into the uncharted minds of the current generation of American youth. Through an examination of digimedia and pop culture, Jasmine hopes to bridge the mindsets of different generations. 

    Saraswathi Shukla

    Age: 17

    Princeton, New Jersey

    Category: Outside the Box

    In her project, “Mesmerizing Music: Sound, Imagination, and Communication in the Mesmeric Séance,” Saraswathi conducted an in-depth study of sound and music in Franz-Anton Mesmer's theory of animal magnetism. Combining history, music, language, and literature, she examined the role of music in Mesmer's therapeutic séances in the context of broader changes in the popular perception of sound in pre-Revolution Paris. The importance of sound in mesmerism indicates that music played a greater role in the history of medicine than previously thought and presents new ways to analyze scientific theories of this period.

    August Siena Thomas

    Age: 17

    Montague, Massachusetts

    Category: Literature

    In her project, “Rewriting History,” August examines the ways in which personal and political histories are purposefully re-imagined and rewritten. Through a historical novel, literary reflection, drama and historical interpretation, August observes the manners in which interpretation of history remains fluid. She employs themes of power, betrayal, redemption, and choice in her stories, and reflects on how writers have used malice, ambition, flattery and imagination through the ages to shape the way history is written.

    Vijay Venkatesh

    Age:  17

    Laguna Niguel, California

    Category: Music

    In his project, “Magic through Music,” Vijay views music as a gift to move the world, serving as a common link to touch the humanity in us all. Winning the grand prize at the Los Angeles Music Spotlight Awards and the second prize at the Virginia Waring International Piano Solo Intermediate Competition, Vijay believes it is his duty as a performer to assure the audience of the joy and love that transcend life’s struggles. 

    William Yuan

    Age:  12

    Portland, Oregon

    Category: Science

    In his project, “High Efficient 3-Dimensional Nanotube Solar Cell for Visible and UV Light,” William invented a novel solar panel that enables light absorption from visible to ultraviolet light.  He designed carbon nanotubes to overcome the barriers of electron movement, doubling the light-electricity conversion efficiency. William also developed a model for solar towers and a computer program to simulate and optimize the tower parameters. His optimized design provides 500 times more light absorption than commercially-available solar cells and nine times more than the cutting-edge, three-dimensional solar cell.

    Charles Zhang

    Age:  17

    Oakland Township, Michigan

    Category:  Science

    In his project, “Development of a Vibration Energy Harvesting Device Based on an Asymmetric Air-spaced Cantilever,” Charles researched and developed a prototype for renewable battery power that harvests energy from mechanical vibrations. Charles found that by using asymmetric air-spaced cantilevers, mechanical energy present in the environment could generate AC voltage. The magnitude of the AC voltage generated is much larger and helps to increase the efficiency when converting the AC voltage into DC voltage. His prototype can be used as a primary power source in wireless structural monitoring sensors for bridges, implantable medical devices, tire pressure monitoring systems and portable devices.

    $10,000 Scholarship Recipients

    Nathan Georgette

    Age:  17

    Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

    Category:  Science

    In his project, “Novel Herd Immunity Threshold Analysis Incorporating Population Dynamics and Gradual Immunization,” Nathan developed a novel mathematical model intended to reduce the costs of stopping viral disease outbreaks in impoverished nations. He used mathematical modeling to generate a formula with which the minimum number of vaccines needed to stop a measles outbreak can be calculated in real time during the outbreak. His research represents a new approach to understanding the dynamic effects of infectious disease spread and gradual immunization. 

    Molly Hensley-Clancy

    Age:  16

    Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Category:  Literature

    In her project, “Seized as Beauty,” Molly explores the primal human instinct of storytelling through the eyes and minds of young girls. Molly demonstrates that geographic and linguistic differences do not change the universality of dreams, thoughts and troubles. She believes the more we notice the commonalities that bind us together as human beings, rather than what sets us apart, the less we will be able to ignore those who are suffering among us.

    Kyle Hutzler

    Age:  16

    Huntingtown, Maryland

    Category: Outside the Box

    In his project, “Kansas: American Education,” Kyle created a substantial policy paper incorporating analysis and editorials to serve as the groundwork for education reform. The paper recommends that successful school reform must incorporate choice, autonomy, and accountability, of which testing can only be one part, along with the empowerment of parents, students and teachers. His work articulates a vision for restructuring with specific proposals ranging from classroom organization and curriculum, to funding and teacher pay.

    Michael Leap

    Age:  17

    Okemos, Michigan

    Category: Philosophy

    In his project, “The Ontology of Science: A Critical Perspective,” Michael tackles one of the largest philosophical debates of our time – the role of science in society. In his portfolio, Michael examines this relationship by synthesizing and applying several complex philosophical concepts to basic questions about science in everyday life. With a unifying thesis that conventional views of science, truth, and nature only function from a self-referential viewpoint, he presents new, transversal perspectives in hopes that this critical examination will lead to a greater understanding of the world at large.

    Divya Nag

    Age:  17

    El Dorado Hills, California

    Category:  Science

    In her project, “Thermal Analysis and Thermogravimetry Techniques to Quantify and Prevent Forest Fires,” Divya developed a thermal analysis technique to quantify the effects of forest fires and a novel ratio to determine organic matter loss in on-site situations. Wildfires have proven to be a problem of high economic loss and great environmental impact. By using differential scanning calorimetry, thermogravimetry and x-ray diffraction, Divya determined soil ignition temperatures and soil compositions before and after burning. These techniques can be used in evaluating the efficacy of prescribed burning and forest management.

    Avanthi Raghavan

    Age:  17

    Orlando, Florida

    Category: Science

    In her project, “Characterization of Novel Protein Trafficking Pathways in Plasmodium falciparum,” Avanthi studied mechanisms of protein transport critical to the survival and pathogenicity of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, which infects human red blood cells.  Plasmodium falciparum is the most virulent causative agent of malaria and causes an estimated two million deaths annually. By using confocal microscopy, Avanthi characterized the role of the SNARE proteins PfSec22 and PfBet1, thus identifying potentially exploitable targets for the future development of parasite-specific drugs.

    Sarah Waliany

    Age:  16

    Arcadia, California

    Category: Science

    In her project, “Role of t-Darpp in P13K/AKt/Bcl-2 Pathway in Causing Resistance in Herceptin-Sensitive Breast Tumors,” Sarah discovered that expression of the gene t-Darpp can make Her-2 positive breast tumor cells become resistant to the drug Herceptin. Sarah demonstrated that t-Darpp alters a critical signaling pathway that regulates growth and survival in cells. Her-2 positive breast tumor cells are very aggressive and Herceptin-resistance is found in 50 to 70 percent of cancer patients. Sarah's work shows that blocking the t-Darpp gene can eventually lead to more effective breast cancer treatment.

    2008 Davidson Fellows Press Kit
    Davidson Fellows Reception at the Library of Congress in September 2008
    Video - 2008 Davidson Fellows Reception (YouTube)
    National News Release
    Davidson Fellows' Positive Contributions to Society
    National Statistics: Why our Nation Needs to Educate our Gifted and Talented Youth

    2008 News Articles 
    2008 Brochure

    Honorable Mentions

    Mr. Andrew David King
    Hayward, California
    Blurred Lines and Battlefields: Perspectives of War

    Miss Ting Ting Zeng
    McLean, Virginia
    A Rotation of the Human Heart

    Miss Swara Kopparty
    Terre Haute, Indiana
    Results on Frequency Sequences

    Mr. Eric Larson
    Eugene, Oregon
    The DNA Inequality in Non-Convex Regions

    Mr. Preben Antonen
    Berkeley, California
    Camouflage; The Path; Nickelcurve

    Mr. Gabriel Cabezas
    Wilmette, Illinois
    Engineering the Bridge: The Unborn Audience

    Miss Ania Filochowska
    Saddle Brook, New Jersey
    Connecting the World Through Music

    Miss Hannah Ji
    Basking Ridge, New Jersey
    Creating Love, Hope, and Faith through Music

    Miss Elena Kawazu
    Schaumburg, Illinois
    If I Could Touch Your Heart

    Mr. Parker Ramsay
    Burns, Tennessee
    Music without Borders

    Outside The Box
    Mr. David Dalrymple
    Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Boolean Logic in Cellular Automata

    Miss Alexis Peterson
    Madison, Florida
    Identification of Economic Sustainability Strategies

    Mr. Srikanth Damera
    Pittsford, New York
    Controlled Release of an Insulin Oligonucleatide Conjugate Towards a More Effective Treatment for Diabetes

    Mr. Andrew Meng
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Multi-Analyte Molecular Imprinting Using One Monomer versus Traditional Systems

    Mr. Akansh Murthy
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Metabolic Profiling of Breast and Lung Cancers by NMR Spectroscopy and Multivarate Eigenvector Analysis

    Miss Smitha Ramakrishna
    Chandler, Arizona
    Analysis of the Chemical and Biological Degradation of Sucralose in Synthetic Wastewater

    Mr. Zachary Stauber
    Rancho Cordova, California
    Multi-Modal Imaging Probes for in vivo Detection of Lymphoid Cancers

    Mr. Max Wallack
    Natick, Massachusetts
    The Carpal Cushion

    Mr. Arthur Weissmann
    San Antonio, Texas
    The Sea Breeze Low-Level Jet: Real or Model's Imagination

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