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Four High School Students Mentored at Stony Brook Among 40 Intel STS Finalists to Compete for More than $1.6 Million in Scholarship Awards

Four High School Students Mentored at Stony Brook Among 40 Intel STS Finalists to Compete for More than $1.6 Million in Scholarship Awards

STONY BROOK, N.Y., January 21, 2015 – Four high school students who conducted their summer research projects at Stony Brook University and who were mentored in the labs of distinguished faculty at Stony Brook, were named among 40 finalists in the prestigious 2015 Intel Science Talent Search. Finalists were selected from a group of 300 semifinalists after Intel received more than 1,800 original entries, the highest number since 1998.

Following are the high school students who participated in research programs including the Simons Summer Research Program in Stony Brook labs last summer:

Finalist: Charles Gulian, Ossining HS, Ossining, NY
Mentor: Dr. Michal Simon, Physics & Astronomy

Finalist: Ien Li, Jericho HS, Jericho, NY
Mentor: Dr. Christine DeLorenzo, Psychiatry and Biomedical Engineering

Finalist: Scott Massa, Commack HS, Commack, NY
Mentors: Dr. David Talmage, Pharmacological Sciences; Dr. Lorna Role, Neurobiology


Finalist: Saranesh Prembabu, Dougherty Valley HS, CA
Mentor: Dr. Matthew Dawber, Physics & Astronomy

“It is always very rewarding to see high school students develop as accomplished researchers at such a young age through the tutelage of distinguished faculty researchers at Stony Brook,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “Doing well in high school science competitions is certainly an accomplishment for these students; the greatest achievement for Stony Brook mentors is molding young scholars, fostering their independence and inquisitiveness and watching them flourish as they pursue research at a leading research university like Stony Brook.”

Finalists in the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. from March 5-11, where they will undergo final judging, display their work to the public, and meet with notable scientists. This year the competition features a new awar structure that includes triple the top award money and new award categories. In place of the competition’s previous $100,000 top prize, three Medal of Distinction awards of $150,000 each will be presented to students who show exceptional scientific potential in three areas: Basic Research, Global Good, and Innovation. There are also three second-place awards of $75,000, and three third-place awards of $35,000.

For more information regarding the Intel semifinalists mentored at Stony Brook, their research, and their Stony Brook mentors visit

Quotes from Mentors:

Ien Li, Jericho HS, Jericho, NY

Mentor: Dr. Christine DeLorenzo, PhD, Psychiatry and Biomedical Engineering and Director, Center for Understanding Biology using Imaging Technology (CUBIT)

“We were very excited to hear that Ien was named an Intel STS finalist. Driven by her passion for medical research, Ien accomplished a great deal in our lab, including applying complex statistical models to high dimensional brain imaging data. This project will help us better understand depression, which could lead to new treatments and hope for the millions suffering with this complex disease.

Scott Massa, Commack H.S., Commack, NY

Mentor: David Talmage, PhD, Pharmacological Sciences

“I am delighted for Scott — this is a well-deserved honor. Scott was a delight to have in the lab — he worked hard, thought deeply and displayed unmatched enthusiasm. I am continuously impressed by his ability to delve into the literature to generate questions that span diverse topics – ranging from cellular processes that go wrong in Alzheimer’s to the genetics of schizophrenia. I also want to recognize the dedication of the teachers, especially Richard Kurtz at Commack High School, and Stony Brook’s Karen Kernan who make the Simons Summer Research Program such a success.”

Saranesh Prembabu, Dougherty Valley HS, CA

Mentor: Matthew Dawber, PhD, Physics & Astronomy

“I was very excited to hear about Saranesh’s success in the Intel Science Talent Search. I remember when I first read Saranesh’s application to join the Simons Summer Research Program and work in our laboratory that he stood out as a student with an incredibly deep knowledge of the complex physics associated with electronic materials for someone of his age, so I was extremely eager to have him come and work with us. We he arrived, he actually exceeded my high expectations! Working together with one of my graduate students, Greg (Hsiang-Chun) Hsing, he made great strides in unlocking the coupling between the magnetic and electric properties of the artificial materials we develop in my laboratory. Saranesh is an absolutely brilliant student and I see he will have a great future as a scientist. He consistently pushes himself and those around him to dig deeper and think more about what is going on in his experiments, which is a fantastic trait for a researcher to have. I always enjoy having the outstanding students we get from the Simons program come and work in my lab. This year Saranesh was one three students who came to work with us; each one them did great things in our lab and we all had a lot of fun!”

Charles Gulian, Ossining HS, Ossining, NY

Mentor: Michal Simon, PhD, Physics & Astronomy

“I was delighted that Charles Gulian’s abilities and hard work are recognized by the Intel award. And,
the recognition is not a fluke! He is also a Siemens Regional Semi-Finalist. Charles was a runner-up
in our Simons competition for summer 2014. I took him on as a mentee for several reasons: 1) I had
talked with him in Spring 2014 and thus knew that a) he is very bright, capable (he knows how to program
in Python better than most grad students in physics and astronomy), and truly self-driven, 2) He had
already started the project that he went on to develop for the Siemens and Intel competitions, but
3) the project needed a strong dose of astronomical realism, 4) the tools that he needed to create
to work with the publicly available large database at the Kepler Mission were of great interest to me,
and finally 5) I knew that we could make my mentoring him work, even though he lives in the Ossining
area. I have a visiting scientist appointment with the astronomers at the American Museum of Natural
History. We agreed to meet about once a week there. All these hopes and plans panned out – Charles
learned quite a bit of astronomy from me, I learned from him, and Siemens and Intel both recognized
Charles’ achievement. What a pleasure!”


Reporter Contact: 
Alida Almonte

Stony Brook University; Office of Media Relations



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