Team Canada-ISEF Spectacular - Wins 30 Awards in Pittsburgh

Fri, 2012-05-18 17:00 -- Reni Barlow

Team Canada-ISEF put on a world-class performance at this week's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, bringing home a total of 30 awards, including one of two $50,000 Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards presented to the best of the best, three of the seventeen $5,000 Best of Category Awards, and four First Place Grand Awards.

Not bad for a team of 18 up against 1500 top young scientists from 70 countries at the world's largest high school research competition, where only one in four wins an award. In fact, thirteen of the eighteen members of Team Canada-ISEF 2012 are bringing home awards - a number that speaks volumes about the quality of youth science in this country.

Nicholas Schiefer (17) of Pickering, Ontario (at right in photo) led the team's performance, receiving the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award ($50,000), the Best of Category Award ($5,000) and First Place Grand Award ($3,000) in Computer Science, plus five Special Awards. These include a $10,000 award from Google and a trip to CERN in Geneva, Switzerland to meet with researchers, see the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, enjoy Geneva, and the beauty of Switzerland and France. Nicholas studied what he calls "microsearch," or the ability to search the fastest-growing information medium: small amounts of content, such as tweets and Facebook status updates. Through his research, Nicholas hopes to improve search engines' capabilities, which will in turn improve access to information. An earlier version of his project won a gold medal at the 2011 Canada-Wide Science Fair in Toronto last May.

Joining Nicholas, and ten other winners of the trip to CERN, will be Christopher Nielsen (18) of Calgary, Alberta who received a First Place Grand Award in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering and four Special Awards for developing a highly accurate mobile robotic navigation system using a Microsoft Kinect device. Potential applications for his work include independent navigation systems for the visually impaired and enhanced guidance systems for mobile robotics. Neilsen was one of fifteen finalists (selected from 10,000 applicants) in the inaugural Google Science Fair last year.

Adam Noble (18) of Lakefield, Ontario is bringing home the Environmental Management Best of Category Award and a First Place Grand Award for his work on the development of a system that uses Euglena (a microorganism) to recover nanosilver (tiny particles of silver used as an antibacterial agent) from wastewater. His project was one of three to receive the Dudley R. Herschbach SIYSS Award - participation in the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar, which includes attendance at the 2012 Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm, Sweden in December. For those unfamiliar with his work, Dudley Herschbach shared the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry with John Polanyi of the University of Toronto and Yuan T. Lee of Taiwan.

Canada's final Best of Category Award and First Place Grand Award - in Earth and Planetary Sciences - were won by Adam Mofeed Sawan (17) of London, Ontario who developed a computer model to investigate the geochemical and geomicrobiological effects of the proposed Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal. He also picked up a $1,000 Special Award from the American Geosciences Institute.

Other Team Canada-ISEF 2012 winners included:

  • Dheevesh Arulmani (16), Mississauga ON - Third Place Grand Award (Energy and Transportation)
  • Sruti Arulmani (14), Mississauga ON - Third Place Grand Award (Microbiology)
  • Christina Ding (17), Waterloo ON - Fourth Place Grand Award (Medicine and Health Sciences)
  • Lauren Reid (16), Uxbridge ON - Fourth Place Grand Award (Energy and Transportation)
  • Sarthak Sinha (16), Calgary AB - Third Place Grand Award (Medicine and Health Sciences)
  • Rui Song (16), Saskatoon SK - Second Place Grand Award (Plant Sciences) and a Special Award from Monsanto
  • Sandro Young (17), Ottawa ON - Fourth Place Grand Award (Computer Science)
  • Marshall Zhang (17), Richmond Hill ON - Third Place Grand Award (Biochemistry)
  • Yichen Zhang (16), Richmond BC - Third Place Grand Award (Medicine and Health Sciences) and a Special Award from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry

Youth Science Canada's Executive Director, Reni Barlow, noted, "This year's results are simply spectacular - further evidence that Canadian youth science is among the best in the world and that Youth Science Canada's programs are working to develop, support, and recognize our country's young scientists."

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair includes some of the most promising rising student entrepreneurs, innovators and scientists from around the world. Finalists are selected annually from hundreds of affiliated fairs. Their projects are then evaluated onsite by more than 1,200 judges from nearly every scientific discipline, each with a Ph.D. or the equivalent of 6 years of related professional experience in one of the scientific disciplines.

Team Canada-ISEF was generously sponsored by Intel Canada.

Applications for Team Canada-ISEF 2013 are open to students who will be in high school as of May, 2013. The deadline for applications is December 15, 2012. For more information, visit the Team Canada-ISEF web site.

Watch the CTV interview with Nicholas Schiefer:

Watch an interview at Intel ISEF with Nicholas Schiefer:

Watch the Intel ISEF 2012 highlight video: