Davidson Fellows - 2011

2011 Davidson Fellow Laureate

$50,000 Scholarship Recipient


    Simone Porter

    Age: 14

    Seattle, Washington

    Category: Music

    Simone Porter’s violin portfolio, Performance as Soundtrack of Process and Identity, examines the progression of performance preparation, from the development of technique and interpretation, to the emergence of a professional identity. This process led her to comprehend the transformative, inspirational and transcendent potency music possesses. Through performance, Simone believes music has the potential to aid our society, and help achieve a kinder, more tolerant attitude toward ourselves and our natural environment. Simone was a featured performer on PBS’ “From the Top at Carnegie Hall.”

    2011 Davidson Fellows

    $25,000 Scholarship Recipients

    Arjun Aggarwal

    Age: 16

    South Carolina

    Category: Technology

    Arjun Aggarwal created GNut-III, an Anthropometric Interactive Robot with Vision, Intelligence and Speech. He found the lack of an economically efficient and functional human robot has prohibited researchers from continuing to expand the field of robotics. To counter this, the GNut-III is economically efficient and functional for testing robotic algorithms. In addition to the GNut-III, Arjun has outlined a scattered open source community to work on a standardized platform that could transform robotics in the same way it has transformed computing.

    Matthew Bauerle

    Age: 16

    Fenton, Michigan

    Category: Mathematics

    Matthew Bauerle outlined how the Newton direction can be computed by solving a weighted linear least squares problem. When fitting a model to data, such as a line to a set of points, the least squares method is currently the most popular technique. Matthew’s work focused on minimizing the l1 norm of the error which is the sum of the absolute values of the individual errors. Matthew’s work has potential in the medical imaging and scanning fields, as well as facial recognition and fluid dynamics simulations.

    Marian Bechtel

    Age: 16

    Lancaster, Pennsylvania

    Category: Science 

    Marian Bechtel designed a seismo-acoustic method for detecting landmines. Approximately 70 million landmines plague 80 countries worldwide, claiming one victim every 22 minutes. With Marian’s method, two high-sensitivity, non-contact microphones are swept above buried landmines that resonate in response to a remote seismic source. The recorded sound is noise-cancelled in real-time, creating a characteristic, audible null in the noise-cancelled waveform that isolates the mine’s location. This efficient and inexpensive method could make important contributions to humanitarian demining.

    Benjamin Clark

    Age: 15

    Lancaster, Pennsylvania

    Category: Science

    Benjamin Clark determined the frequency at which M stars form close binary star systems using spectroscopic data from over 39,000 M dwarfs. Using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), Benjamin designed a methodology to use the extremely large, but low resolution and signal-to-noise ratio database, to calculate the close binary fraction. Star formation has long been an open question in astrophysics and this data can be used to test theories of how this process occurs.


    Siddhartha Jena

    Age: 17

    Bloomfield Hills,

    Category: Science

    Siddhartha Jena demonstrated that the immediate effect of elevated cholesterol is dysfunction of active water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide transport by the red blood cells. Using a spectrofluorometer and Zeta Sizer, he showed that exposure of red blood cells to two compounds: ONO-RS-082 and glyburide, results in an amelioration of cholesterol’s detrimental effects. Results from his work broaden the understanding of one of the most significant health risks facing our society, and the possible mechanism for its future treatment and management.

    Arianna Körting

    Age:  17

    Gates Mills, Ohio

    Category: Music

    Arianna Körting’s portfolio, Celebration of Life through the Piano, showcased Haydn, Ginastera and Liszt. Through the piano, she hopes to bring audiences into the lives of the great composers to experience their humor, tenderness and brilliance. She believes music has the power to transform space and time because it has been a constant presence even through the most difficult moments in history. Arianna has been featured on NPR’s “From the Top,” and started The Animato Project, an interactive program of classical music for elementary school children.

    Caleb Kumar

    Age:  15

    Blaine, Minnesota

    Category: Science

    Caleb Kumar developed an algorithm that automates the diagnosis of bladder cancer. Bladder cancer is on the rise with more than 71,000 new cases in 2009. By first identifying indicative bladder cancer cellular characteristics, Caleb programmed morphometric algorithms to quantitatively examine the bladder cell images, and then engineered a Java neural network that differentiates cancerous cells from normal cells based on shape, color and curvature. Caleb’s software is accurate, quick and inexpensive compared to current methods, and has the potential to provide faster, cheaper and more precise diagnoses of cytological diseases.


    Sunil Pai

    Age:  17

    Houston, Texas

    Category:  Science

    Sunil Pai constructed an inexpensive, nanotechnology-based system to determine quantum energies of superoxide. By examining oxygen in the liquid phase instead of the gas phase, his potentiostat system can determine the quantum structure for the electron attachment reaction of oxygen to superoxide. The determination of oxygen’s physical properties is essential to fully understanding the role oxygen and many free radicals have in cell processes. This experimentation method may establish other molecular properties that will offer new insights into biological and environmental processes.

    Lucy Wang

    Age:  17

    Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania

    Category:  Science

    Lucy Wang developed a predictive model to detect adolescent depression with an overall correct classification of 83.66 percent. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide and the third leading cause of death among teenagers. Using factor analysis and logistic regression, she focused on quantifying variables that may lead to adolescent depression, including student self-reported experiences and demographics. Lucy’s model will offer a robust instrument for school psychologists to evaluate the risk of future depression.

    $10,000 Scholarship Recipients

    Cheenar Banerjee

    Age:  16

    Rochester, Minnesota

    Category:  Technology

    Cheenar Banerjee developed a method for emotion detection by computers. It remains a challenge for computers to recognize and respond correctly to the emotional states of an interactive user. After removing some facial detail by converting facial images to black-and-white sketches, Cheenar used fractal analyses to differentiate among emotions using the fractal dimensions. This process has the potential to be simpler, cheaper and more effective than current techniques of emotion detection by computers.

    Rebecca Chen

    Age:  16

    Carmel, Indiana

    Category:  Mathematics

    Rebecca Chen studied a generalized version of the Yang-Baxter equation. The Yang-Baxter equation provides a systematic method for discovering braid group representations, important in topology and quantum information science. Using algebraic computations and computer numerical checking, she classified three families of 8x8 matrix solutions to the generalized Yang-Baxter equation. These solutions provide a way to generate braiding quantum gates needed in quantum computing, and contribute to the ongoing effort to build a large-scale quantum computer, bringing advances in fields as far ranging as materials sciences and cryptography.

    Jayanth Krishnan

    Age:  17

    Mahopac, New York

    Category: Science

    Jayanth Krishnan developed an approach to infer regulatory mechanisms governing changes in gene expression and identified possible proteins that induce cancer. By creating a web interface that could predict transcription factors for disregulated genes, and mathematical models using MATLAB, he was able to predict proteins that are correlated with certain cancer families. Using this information, he calculated several combinations of drugs, for 60 different cancers, that have the potential to counteract the inducing agents and better guide therapeutics.

    Bonnie Nortz

    Age:  17

    Fairport, New York

    Category: Literature

    Bonnie Nortz’s portfolio, Run and Run and Run, explores relationships, identity, materialism, oppression and emotion, and covers topics as broad as tourism, grammar, dreams, cartography, winter and even pre-calculus. Her goal was to find the extraordinary in the mundane, the pure in the imperfect and to describe that moment of awakening when everything is just the way it should be. Bonnie hopes to teach others how to go through life with an everlasting energy and curiosity and to appreciate the fantastic emotional and intellectual complexity that comprises our human existence.

    Anirudh Prabhu

    Age:  16

    West Lafayette, Indiana

    Category:  Mathematics

    Anirudh Prabhu established the first nontrivial analytic lower bounds for odd perfect numbers. The search for odd perfect numbers is one of the oldest unsolved problems in mathematics. Many upper bounds for odd perfect numbers are established, however, no nontrivial analytic lower bounds had been reported prior to Anirudh’s work. By narrowing the gap between analytic upper and lower bounds, his work suggests an approach for proving the non-existence of odd perfect numbers and could contribute to data encryption technology.

    Shalini Ramanan

    Age:  17

    Richland, Washington

    Category: Science

    Shalini Ramanan worked with Bisdemethoxycurcumin (BC), a natural dietary component of the spice turmeric, to test its effectiveness in treating cardiovascular diseases. Through cell migration assays and western blot techniques, she found that BC inhibited platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-induced vascular smooth muscle cell migration and signaling. Using bioinformatics, she identified target genes connected with signaling pathways. PDGF-stimulated cell-migration and proliferation are key pathological events in a variety of disease including atherosclerosis and cancer. Her studies may help design and characterize novel drug molecules with clinical applications.

    Raja Selvakumar

    Age:  15

    Alpharetta, Georgia

    Category: Science

    Raja Selvakumar developed the Gastro Microbial Fuel Cell (GMFC). Based on the microbial fuel cell, the GMFC generates electricity using gastrobacteria to be used to power capsular nanobots. Current lithium ion batteries in biomedical capsular nanobots are not able to sustain power for long periods of time; the GMFC has the potential to solve this problem. The GMFC-powered capsular nanobot can play an important role in treating gastrointestinal diseases through intracellular diagnosis and surgery.

    Reylon Yount

    Age:  16

    San Francisco, California

    Category: Music

    Reylon Yount created a yangqin, or Chinese hammered dulcimer, portfolio that has contributed to the preservation of Chinese music, to the introduction of Chinese music to people in the United States, and to the overall interconnection of the music world. His work attempts to take people past the conventional shapes and forms of Western music, helping them appreciate the universality of art. He hopes that such cross-cultural music will build a deeper connection between the East and West, and inspire people to love all music.

    2011 Davidson Fellows Press Kit
    Davidson Fellows Reception at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian in October 2011
    Video - 2011 Davidson Fellows Reception (YouTube)
    National News Release 

    Davidson Fellows' Positive Contributions to Society

    2011 Brochure
    For more information, visit the Fellows Press Room.

    2011 Honorable Mentions

    Miss Ezgi Ustundag
    Ames, Iowa
    Identity: Contemporary Reflections

    Miss Olivia Valdes
    Boca Raton, Florida
    The Labyrinthine Self: Literature as a Tool for Entanglement and Connection

    Mr. Sitan Chen

    Suwanee, Georgia
    Cellular Automata to More Efficiently Compute the Collatz Map


    Mr. George Li

    Lexington, Massacusetts
    Achieving Excellence: The Miracle of Music

    Outside the Box
    Miss Priyanka Menon
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    Indo-US Relations Through Philosophy and Literature

    Miss Rachael Rhee
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Building Sustainable Peace Through Political Stability: Mozambique and Kosovo

    Mr. Eliott Rosenberg
    Penfield, New York
    The Principle of Moral Risk and Following Conclusions


    Mr. Isaac Anderson

    Evergreen, Colorado

    Miss Amy Chyao
    Richardson, Texas
    Lights, Quantum Dots, Action!

    Mr. Ayush Gupta
    Portland, Oregon
    Fabricating Porous TiO2 Nanoparticles to Improve Change Carrier Efficiency of Photo Electro Chemical Cells

    Miss Lauren Hodge
    York, Pennsylvania
    A Quantitative Analysis of the Formulation of Phenylmethylimidazopyridine, Pyridine Using a High Pressure Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometer

    Mr. Sean Oh

    Old Westbury, New York
    The Neuroprotective Mechanism of DHA and LiCl; A Novel Pathway Implicated in Alzheimer's Disease 

    Miss Tara Raj
    Flemington, New Jersey
    A Blueprint for Designing Effective Biofilm Inhibitor and Disruptor Molecules

    Mr. Kyle Saleeby
    Destin, Florida
    Generating Clean Electrical Tidal Power - Year Three of an Ongoing Study

    Miss Shirley Wu
    Novi, Michigan
    The Synergistic Effect of the P1k3CA Mutant H1047R and the Her 2 Gene on Their Oncogenic Properties in Human Mammary Epithelial Cells

    Mr. Austin Duff
    Montgomery Village, Maryland
    An Investigation into the Fundamentals of Complex Intelligence

    Miss Sriya Muralidharan
    Carmel, Indiana
    The Design and Implementation of a CHICA Algorithm for Optimized Diagnosis of Pediatric Hypertension

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