Siemens Names Two Semifinalists and One Finalist from MSJ

By Staff Writers Katherine Guo & Michael Ren

The Siemens Foundation recognized Junior Thomas Chen as a regional finalist and Junior Ian Hsu and Senior Richard Liu as regional semifinalists in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology on October 18.

The Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology was established in 1999 by the Siemens Foundation and is one of the most prestigious annual high school math and science competitions in the world.

In the competition, high school students submit a research paper along with an executive summary, which describes the project’s function in non-specialist terms. Judging occurs at the regional level, and regional winners advance to the national level, where they compete for scholarships ranging from $25,000 to $100,000.

In working on their projects, Chen, Hsu, and Liu all attended research camps over the summer where they worked in teams with the guidance of mentors and professors. Chen and Hsu both attended the Garcia Summers Research Scholars Program for High School Students at Stony Brook University, and Liu attended the Science Internship Program at UC Santa Cruz. All three of the MSJ students worked in groups of three with other camp attendees on their research projects.

Chen’s project, titled “P12 Peptide’s Suppressive Effects on Fibrinogen Fiber Formation and Novel Application of Machine Learning in Fiber Counting,” investigated whether a newly discovered peptide, P12, could prevent blood from clotting in the veins. Through their three weeks of research, the team found that P12 did indeed reduce blood clotting. This result could prove especially significant to the surgical field, as blood clots during and after surgery are one of the most prominent dangers of an operation.

Hsu’s project, titled “A Novel Study Correlating the Effects of 3D Printed Scaffold Surface Topography and Cell Plating Density on Differentiation of Dental Pulp Stem Cells,” analyzed dental pulp stem cells at different initial cell plating densities on two different scaffolds and studied the subsequent differentiation and growth of each cell. In ten weeks of researching, Hsu’s team discovered that the effect of the scaffold surface topography on the cells overwhelmed the impact of the initial cell plating density and influenced the differentiation of the cells under certain conditions. The result could prove to be crucial to future research in bone and tooth regeneration.

Liu’s project was in the field of astronomy and focused on the evolution of galaxies. In his project, titled “SDSS-IV MaNGA – Investigating Trends amongst Galaxy Properties driven by Galaxy Evolution,” Liu’s group analyzed data taken from an astronomy survey on a large number of galaxies and found correlations and trends between the data. In doing so, the group mainly analyzed the age, elemental composition, and speed of rotation of the galaxies. One major result they found was that younger galaxies rotated faster and more uniformly than older galaxies, which typically had no rotation at all. In working on the project, Liu especially enjoyed learning more about how physics, math, and computer science all tie into the field of astronomy. “Astronomy is actually a really nice combination between computer science, physics, and math … math and physics were definitely important in understanding what astronomy is about, but I felt like computer science was the medium; computer science itself is not a means to an end, it’s used as a means to do something because it makes comparing and computing a lot easier,” said Liu.

In addition to qualifying as regional semifinalists, Chen’s project was also selected as a regional finalist. The team is currently preparing their presentation on their research, which involves continuing to work with their mentor and professor as well. The team could advance to the final national level of competition depending on their performance.

Photo by Staff Writer Michael Ren

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