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15-Year Old Creates Machine Learning Tool To Study Genes

intel-science-fair-winner

Nathan Han, 15, of Boston has developed  a machine learning software tool to study mutations of a gene linked to breast cancer. Han was awarded first place at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science and the Public.

Using data from publicly available databases, Han examined detailed characteristics of multiple mutations of the BRCA1 tumor suppressor gene in order to “teach” his software to differentiate between mutations that cause disease and those that do not. His tool exhibits an 81 percent accuracy rate and could be used to more accurately identify cancer threats from BRCA1 gene mutations. Han received the Gordon E. Moore Award of US$75,000, named in honor of the Intel co-founder and fellow scientist.

Lennart Kleinwort, 15, of Germany received one of two Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards of US$50,000. Kleinwort developed a new mathematical tool for smartphones and tablets that brings capabilities to hand-held devices that previously required more sophisticated and expensive computing tools. His app allows users to hand draw curves, lines and geometric figures on the touch screen and watch the system render them into shapes and equations that can then be manipulated at will.

Shannon Xinjing Lee, 17, of Singapore received the other Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award of US$50,000 for developing a novel electrocatalyst that may be used for batteries of the future. Researchers have been looking for ways to make rechargeable zinc-air batteries practical, as they would be safer, lighter in weight, and have six times the energy density of lithium ion batteries, making them ideal for hybrid vehicles. Lee found that her activated carbon catalyst, which she made entirely from carbonized Chinese eggplant, greatly out-performed a more sophisticated commercial catalyst in stability and longevity tests and will be environmentally friendly and inexpensive to produce.

Intel-science-fair-category-winners

This year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair featured more than 1,700 young scientists selected from 435 affiliate fairs in more than 70 countries, regions and territories.

You can find a full list of finalists here.

[Image/Graphics courtesy: Intel]

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