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Teenagers honored for their research

A national contest awards scholarships to teens for their research on cancer diagnosis, microchip construction and other scientific topics.
Seventeen-year-old Herbert Mason Hedberg, at left, was awarded the $100,000 top honor in the Intel Science Talent Search. Boris Alexeev, center, won second place, and Ryna Karnik placed third.Intel / FPS
/ Source: The Associated Press

A Massachusetts teenager who created a faster way to diagnose cancer won the top prize Tuesday in a national contest for young scientists.

Herbert Mason Hedberg, 17, who attends North Attleboro High School, experimented with the telomerase enzyme found in cancer cells for his Intel Science Talent Search entry. He found a way to screen for telomerase inhibitors and rank their potency in suppressing tumors.

Hedberg took an interest in the topic at a time when his grandmother was undergoing cancer treatment. Now the aspiring physician-scientist has a $100,000 college scholarship.

All the other top 10 finishers won scholarships worth at least $20,000, while 30 other finalists won $5,000 scholarships. For the students, the weeklong event included a visit with President Bush, chats with scientists and public presentations of their research.

Boris Alexeev, 17, of Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, Ga., won the second-prize scholarship of $75,000. His research deals with the theory of automata, the mathematical basis for “pattern matching” that has applications in genetics and speech recognition.

Ryna Karnik of Oregon Episcopal School in Portland, Ore., won the third-place $50,000 scholarship. The 17-year-old created a different method of constructing microchips.

Other winners in the top ten and their scholarships:

  • Linda Brown Westrick, 18, of Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Mechanicsville, Va., $25,000.
  • Eduard Reznik, 17, of Ward Melville High School in East Setauket, N.Y., $25,000.
  • Jayne Wolfson, 18, of Bryam Hills High School in Armonk, N.Y., $25,000.
  • Qilei Hang, 18, of Allegany High School in Cumberland, Md., $20,000.
  • Ann Chi, 17, of Terre Haute South Vigo High School in Terre Haute, Ind., $20,000.
  • Andrei Munteanu, 18, of Benjamin Banneker High School in Washington, D.C., $20,000.
  • Gordon Su, 18, of Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., $20,000.