Twelve Indian Americans, including six from Northern California, are among 40 high school seniors who were named finalists Jan. 21 in the Intel Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science and math competition.

They are: Eswar Anandapadmanaban, Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School, Jersey City, N.J.; Augustine George Chemparathy,

Dougherty Valley High School, San Ramon, Calif.; Avita Gupta, BASIS Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Somya Khare, Lynbrook High School, San Jose, Calif.; Shashwat Kishore, Unionville High School, Kennett Square, Pa.; Rohith Kuditipudi, The Harker School, San Jose, Calif.; Kriti Lall, Castilleja School, Palo Alto, Calif.; Dhaivat Nitin Pandya, Appleton North High School, Appleton, Wis.; Reesab Pathak, Camas High School, Camas, Wash.; Saranesh Prembabu, Dougherty Valley High School, San Ramon, Calif.; Anika Raghuvanshi, Jesuit High School, Portland, Ore.; and Tanay Tandon, Cupertino High School, Cupertino, Calif.

The 40 will compete in Washington, D.C., from March 5-11 for more than $1 million in awards from the Intel Foundation. Winners will be announced at a gala awards ceremony at the National Building Museum March 10.

For the first time this year, the contest will feature a new awards structure, as the $100,000 top prize in previous years has been replaced with three medals of distinction of $150,000 each in three areas: basic research, global good and innovation. There are also three second-place awards of $75,000 and three third-place awards of $35,000.

The 40 finalists were chosen from 300 semifinalists and more than 1,800 entrants based on the originality and creativity of their scientific research, achievements and leadership both inside and outside the classroom.

Since assuming sponsorship of the Science Talent Search 17 years ago, Intel has increased the competition’s annual awards from $205,000 to more than $1.6 million.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Tandon of Cupertino, in a visit to India, noticed just how many miles people travel for medical care. He combined his background in computer science with his interest in microbiology to develop a type of software that uses a smartphone camera equipped with a magnifying lens to analyze blood samples for signs of parasitic infection or other health problems.

“It’s a low-cost, portable way to diagnose blood cells,” he told the newspaper last week. “It has a lot of potential as a product deployed in rural areas.”

Chemparathy, 17, spent two summers at the Carnegie Institute studying how microscopic algae could be used to synthesize biofuels, the Mercury News said. “I felt that they were a really viable, clean alternative energy source.”

Kuditipudi’s project is a new computer method to analyze how liver cells turn on and off genes in a syndrome called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. “I wanted to look at a biological problem where more information was needed," he told the newspaper.

Khare, 18, hopes to share her research findings on bacterial growth and cell division, which she conducted last summer and fall at Stanford University. “I’m glad I have the opportunity to present my work to amazing and talented scientists in Washington, D.C.”

Anvita Gupta of BASIS Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz., acquired an interest in math and science by learning to program LEGO Mindstorms robots that she received on her birthday,” she told a local reporter. In addition to founding and heading a computer science program for middle schools girls, Gupta has taken 16 advanced STEM courses.

New Jersey student Eswar Anandapadmanaban was watching a documentary on hospitals when he realized just how many patients have to be hooked up to respiratory monitors. His solution, the ThereNIM, is a device that can follow people’s chest movements without actually coming into contact with them. The monitor is made up of two oscillators with electric fields that use the patient’s body as a capacitor.

The judges will have to make some hard decisions March 10.

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