Davidson Fellows - 2010

2010 Davidson Fellow Laureates

$50,000 Scholarship Recipients


    Kyle Loh

    Age: 16

    New Jersey

    Category: Science

    Kyle Loh conducted screening of chemical libraries and identified compounds that can help convert human and mouse skin cells into pluripotent stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells have the potential to differentiate into many different cell types. The chemical compounds he identified obviate the need to destroy embryos. Kyle’s studies advance regenerative medicine and provide insights into the molecular mechanisms that underlie the conversion of skin cells into pluripotent stem cells.

    Yeeren Low

    Age: 13

    East Stroudsburg,

    Category: Music

    Yeeren Low explored and experimented with sound in various aspects of music through five compositions. In his portfolio, Art of Sound, his goal is to enrich the body of the contemporary classical music genre, and create new musical expressions and listening experiences. Yeeren is particularly interested in promoting greater awareness and exposure to the richness of the classical music genre, thus contributing to its wider recognition, appreciation and overall advancement.

    Jonathan Rajaseelan

    Age: 17

    Millersville, Pennsylvania

    Category: Science

    Jonathan Rajaseelan synthesized six new chemical carbene complexes of the metal Rhodium. Rhodium complexes act as catalysts in multiple organic synthesis reactions, including the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals. The catalytic effects of his complexes make these processes safer, inexpensive and less environmentally hazardous by eliminating the need for large quantities of hydrogen gas, a dangerous explosive. Jonathan’s work has the potential to contribute to greener methods of making medicines, pharmaceuticals, and other chemical products.

    2010 Davidson Fellows

    $25,000 Scholarship Recipients

    Eric Brooks

    Age: 16

    Hewlett, New York

    Category: Science

    Eric Brooks studied the genetic factors affecting metastatic progression of prostate cancer. Approximately 30 percent of men with prostate cancer will die from it, but it is difficult to predict who will get the metastatic diagnosis. Eric developed models based on evolutionary selection to identify genes that may affect metastatic potential either positively or negatively. His observations may be used to design better clinical predictors to indicate who must undergo painful treatment and for whom the treatment is unnecessary.

    John Michael Colón

    Age: 17

    Wayside, New Jersey

    Category: Literature

    John Michael Colón’s portfolio, Art as Empathy: A Study of the Syncretic Potential of Literature, demonstrates the utility of literature and art in society. He writes that although human beings want to communicate their fundamental experience, this worldview is too ineffable to express directly; art and literature articulate this on a visceral level. John Michael proposes through art and literature, the expression of ideas can help tame the tendency to dehumanize others by helping us see their ideas the same way we see ours, inspiring empathy.

    Damien Jiang

    Age: 17

    Raleigh, North Carolina

    Category: Mathematics 

    Damien Jiang studied the parallel chip-firing game (PCFG). Though not a game, the PCFG is played on a graph, or network of nodes and edges, and is closely related to a variety of mathematical models for complex phenomena such as earthquakes, avalanches and forest fires. By running computer simulations of randomized PCFGs, Damien studied their tendency to reach a cycle of repeating configurations, and mathematically proved a theorem about its behavior on a graph. Damien’s work has broad applications in disaster preparedness.

    Meredith Lehmann

    Age: 14

    La Jolla, California

    Category: Science

    Meredith Lehmann researched the spread of epidemics. Using trip data from all 3,076 counties in the continental United States, she found long distance auto travel, which accounts for five times as many passenger-miles as air travel, governs simulated epidemic evolution. Large hub airports near population centers are not disproportionately more important in contrast to existing research. Meredith’s findings suggest epidemic models should incorporate automobile and air travel data, but transportation network restrictions are unlikely to be effective.


    Laurie Rumker

    Age: 17

    Portland, Oregon

    Category: Science

    Laurie Rumker investigated the susceptibility of organoclay to biodegradation by microorganisms within river sediments. Organoclay is a chemically-modified clay material used to prevent hydrophobic pollutants from rising into the water ecosystem. Through spectrophotometric analyses and oxygen uptake tests, Laurie found biodegradation of the chemical structures within organoclay which could impair the ability of the organoclay to adsorb and retain pollutants. Laurie’s work has important implications for the treatment of contaminated sediments.

    Anna Kornfeld Simpson

    Age:  17

    San Diego, California

    Category: Technology

    Anna Kornfeld Simpson developed a chemical-detecting robot. She used porous silicon, a material that changes color in the presence of chemicals like alcohols or nerve gas, and simple, low-cost circuit elements to detect color change. The robotic microcomputer then "sees" the chemical instead of "smelling" it. Prototypes had a 100 percent response rate. Anna’s work has applications in security and counterterrorism, monitoring industrial settings for toxins, and exploring locations too hazardous for humans.

    Benjamin Song

    Age:  16

    Audubon, Pennsylvania

    Category: Science

    Benjamin Song researched colon cancer biomarkers in urine. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, even with the sensitive but invasive colonoscopy. Benjamin designed and tested polymerase chain reaction assays targeting a known colon cancer epigenetic marker. His work shows potential for a urine test for colon cancer that is noninvasive, fast, affordable and sensitive. In addition, his method could be adapted to virtually any cancers with known DNA alterations.


    Merry Sun

    Age:  16

    Chappaqua, New York

    Category:  Science

    Merry Sun studied therapeutic ultrasound’s potential in treating recurrent and metastatic cancers. Traditional therapies like radiation, chemotherapy, and surgical resection are ineffective in immune responses against tumor cells. Merry found that therapeutic ultrasound causes stress and light damage to tumor cells, which alerts the immune system to respond and target the tumor. Her results demonstrate the possibility of a novel, non-invasive, non-toxic cancer therapy that treats solid tumors as well as systemic metastases.

    James Ting

    Age:  17

    Holmdel, New Jersey

    Category:  Science

    James Ting synthesized bismuth nanowires which demonstrate quantum confinement, the reduction of electrons to a one-dimensional axis. By using physical vapor deposition, he created lawns of bismuth nanowires as well as isolating single nanowires to add to silicon chips. James’ research focuses on the creation of single electron transistors, which are useful in the new field of spintronics. The spins of these electrons could then be harnessed and used for information storage and act as the building blocks for quantum computers.

    $10,000 Scholarship Recipients

    Scott Boisvert

    Age:  16

    Chandler, Arizona

    Category:  Science

    Scott Boisvert demonstrated a link between amphibian aquatic environments and the growth of pathogenic fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which has contributed to the loss of over 32 percent of amphibian species worldwide. Using ion chromatography and ion-coupled plasma spectrometry, Scott studied how the water chemistry of a habitat affects the growth of the microorganism. Scott’s project has broad implications for understanding the pathogen’s propensity to infect an amphibian host and controlling the spread of infection, benefiting conservation efforts.

    Alexander Gilbert

    Age:  16

    McLean, Virginia

    Category:  Technology

    Alexander Gilbert developed a computer algorithm which improves contrast in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). His program has been successfully applied to brain MRI images, enabling more accurate image definition of tissues, such as areas of demyelination, or plaques, which are often present in patients with multiple sclerosis. Alexander’s work is pertinent to MRIs of the spine and other areas, and offers the potential for better diagnosis and monitoring of multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.

    Janie Gu

    Age:  16

    Morganville, New Jersey

    Category: Science

    Janie Gu researched noise reduction of atomic magnetometer systems, advanced devices that measure magnetic fields with extreme precision. To increase the signal-to-noise ratio, she tested the loss factors, such as measurements of magnetic noise produced, of various ferromagnetic materials for use in the magnetic shield around the system, improving the precision by more than 44 percent. Janie’s work has applications in the military, medicine, information storage, mineral and oil detection, space exploration and fundamental physics experiments.

    Kevin Hu

    Age:  16

    Naperville, Illinois

    Category: Music

    Kevin Hu traverses the globe and explores cross-sections of humanity in his violin portfolio, Sociomusicology: Exploring and Sharing the Worlds of Music. His portfolio includes selections of music that at times, were repressed by political regimes or conversely, celebrated for their heartbreaking beauty, all while representing an array of raw humanity. Kevin’s goal is to present music as a tangible and dynamic tool in human healing, self-discovery and dignity.

    Rebecca Jolitz

    Age:  15

    Los Gatos, California

    Category:  Science

    Rebecca Jolitz examined whether hypolithic cyanobacteria, a photosynthetic organism found under rocks in climatically extreme environments, could theoretically have enough sunlight to survive on Mars. Using an original computer program that simulated a million individual beams of sunlight hitting a Martian rock, Rebecca found that there was enough light for cyanobacteria to survive on Mars, indicating that Mars may not be a dead world. Rebecca’s research could help to discover the means through which life on Mars may exist.

    Sahil Khetpal

    Age:  17

    Plano, Texas

    Category: Science

    Sahil Khetpal developed a carbon nanotube-based drug-delivery system for tumor targeted chemotherapy and photo-therapy of cancer, a dual therapy. This versatile platform attacks tumors on two fronts and mitigates the severe side effects associated with conventional chemotherapy. He also investigated a gadonanotube for the development of a new drug delivery system. Sahil’s system has the potential to both diagnose cancer at an earlier stage and provide the dual therapy mechanism to efficiently combat it.

    Jonathan Li

    Age:  17

    Laguna Niguel, California

    Category: Mathematics

    Jonathan Li developed a mathematical model and computer simulation to analyze tumor growth and is the first to study motility and contact inhibition, a mechanism that limits cell growth when pressured by neighboring cells. His research also revealed an inherent flaw of the Cellular Potts Model, used to simulate cellular structure behavior. Jonathan’s work provides a method to predict the effects of motility on tumor development and can be used to identify cancer phenotypes that chemotherapy drugs can target, potentially improving treatment.

    Gavin Ovsak

    Age:  16

    Hopkins, Minnesota

    Category: Technology

    Gavin Ovsak designed a device to allow disabled individuals more effective access to computers. His project, known as CHAD, Circuit Head Accessibility Device, is a circuit board integrated onto a baseball hat to replace the functions of a computer mouse through head movements and a bite sensor. Gavin’s work is less expensive, more efficient, and uses fewer complex software interfaces than are currently available in the assistive technology market, equalizing access to the social, occupational and global significance of the Internet.

    2010 Davidson Fellows Press Kit
    Davidson Fellows Reception at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian in September 2010
    Video - 2010 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
    2010 News Articles
    2010 Brochure
    For more information, visit the Fellows Press Room.

    2010 Honorable Mentions

    Miss Meher Ali
    Brookfield, Wisconsin
    The Loves We Have Lost

    Miss Riley Carney
    Englewood, Colorado
    Pen and Ink: The Influence of the Written Word

    Miss Ilana Fogelson
    Salt Lake City, Utah

    Miss Kelsey Josund
    Seattle, Washington
    Marginally Universal

    Miss Abigail Lin
    Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    Crossing the Divide

    Miss Lakshmi Varanasi
    Brookfield, Wisconsin
    Roots and Seeds


    Mr. Vivek Banerjee
    Studio City, California
    The Universal Rhythm of Tabla

    Mr. Yeeray Low
    East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
    Music, A Powerful Medium that Transcends Barriers

    Mr. Clark Pang
    Orinda, California
    Music Prisontations

    Miss Rieko Tsuchida
    Mill Valley, California
    Using Music as a Force for Change


    Outside the Box
    Miss Li-Ning Yang
    Beaverton, Oregon
    Improving ParaMor: A Better Approach to Unsupervised Morphological Analysis

    Mr. Nevin Daniel
    Port Jefferson, New York
    Fighting Cancer at its Roots: Anticancer Drug Administration and Quantum Dot Imaging Using Nanoparticle Drug Delivery Vehicles

    Miss Barbara Goodwin
    Dayton, Ohio
    The Effects of Rocket Surface Finish on Altitude Performance

    Miss Jacqueline Han
    Beachwood, Ohio
    Development of a Micro Eletrochemical Biosensor for the Detection of Pyruvate for Diagnosis of Lactic Acidosis

    Miss Shelley Jin
    Gaithersburg, Maryland
    Quantitative Localization of Fluorescent Targets Deeply Embedded in Three Dimensional Turbid Media

    Miss Allison Koenecke
    Falls Church, Virginia
    The Distribution of Facets and Ridges of Crumpled Sheets as an Analogy to Thermodynamics

    Mr. Daniel Liss
    Silver Spring, Maryland
    Food Preservation with Transformed Atmosphere Packaging (TAP)

    Mr. Rishi Neeranjun
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida
    Designing and Testing of a Spatial Simulation Engine for Elephant Movement Using Mathematical Model for Adaptive Management of the Savanna Ecosystem within Kruger National Park, South Africa

    Mr. Neil Pathak
    Roslyn, New York
    A Novel Contrast Enhanced Brain Mimicking Hydrogel for Testing Implantable Brain Electrodes

    Miss Divya Seth

    Rochester, New York
    Selectively Targeting Glioblastoma Multiforme 

    Mr. Sujay Tyle
    Pittsford, New York
    Single Strand DNA Binding Conformation and Analysis Using Optical and Magnetic Tweezers

    Mr. Andrew Ylitalo
    Stillwater, Minnesota
    Windows of the Future: Saving Energy Year-Round

    Mr. Franklin Zhao
    Portland, Oregon
    Using Quantum Algorithm of Grover to Automatically Design Arbitrary Error Correcting Codes

    Miss Elaine Zhou

    Winter Park, Florida
    Catalytic Decomposition of Alcohols Utlizing Platinum Nanoparticles

    Miss Arushi Raghuvanshi
    Beaverton, Oregon
    Modeling Fuzzy Logic with Quantum Circuits for Humanoid Robots

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