Eight Indian American high school students, five of them girls, have been named among 40 finalists for the Intel Science Talent Search 2008 contest.Avanthi Raghavan, Shravani Mikkilineni, Hamsa Sridhar, Shivani Sud, Isha Jain, Vinay Venkatesh Ramasesh, Ashok Chandran and Ayon Sen get at least $5,000 in scholarships and a laptop. They will next compete for 10 scholarships - including the top award of $100,000 - in March in Washington, DC.The eight talented students were selected Wednesday from over 1,600 individual entrants for the nationwide competition, often called the "junior Nobel prize", administered annually by the Washington based Society for Science & the Public.The project Ashok Chandran, 17, of Nesconset, New York, submitted for the competition, studied the link between smoking and breast cancer. He tested the hypothesis that nicotine would alter mammary cell gene expression, creating a cellular environment akin to that of a breast cancer cell.Isha Himani Jain, 17, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has identified a cellular mechanism underlying bone growth spurts in zebra fish, similar to the way children's bones grow. She had also won, in October, a $100,000 scholarship topping the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology for the same study, which has been published in a journal.Avanthi Raghavan, 17, of Orlando, Florida, submitted a project studying the mechanisms of protein transport critical to the survival and virulence of the malaria parasite, which accounts for over two million deaths every year.The project of Shivani Sud, 17, of Durham, North Carolina, focuses on identifying stage II colon cancer patients at high risk of recurrence and the best therapeutic agents for treating their tumours.Hamsa Sridhar, 18, of Kings Park, New York, developed a low cost optical tweezers system that uses laser light to trap and suspend microscopic particles.Ayon Sen, 17, of Austin, Texas, investigated the natural processes by which the ocean transports heat. He developed a MATLAB software interface for deep-water ocean current velocity data and integrated it with surface water velocity data from satellite altimeters.Vinay Venkatesh Ramasesh, 18, of Fort Worth, Texas, submitted a chemistry project involving algorithms to accurately determine molecular thermodynamic properties of large molecules, such as proteins.
Shravani Mikkilineni, 17, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, studied the computation of continued fraction expansions of the square roots of positive integers.