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Mathematics and Biochemistry Research Earn Top Prize at Nation's Premier High School Science Competition

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Nov. 7, /PRNewswire/ -- Research projects in the areas of mathematics and biochemistry scored top marks this evening, as Tim Kunisky of Livingston, NJ and the team of Benjamin Song and Quan (Jack) Chen of Audubon, PA received the highest honors at the Region Five Finals of the 2009 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, the nation's premier high school science competition.

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Tonight's winners will receive thousands of dollars in college scholarships and be invited to compete at the National Finals in New York City from December 3-7, where the winners of six regional competitions across the United States will vie for scholarships ranging from $10,000 to the top prize of $100,000. The Siemens Competition, a signature program of the Siemens Foundation, is administered by the College Board.

"These students have just earned their place among the nation's greatest high school scientists," said James Whaley, President of the Siemens Foundation, based in Iselin, New Jersey. "Each year, the students' work becomes more impressive, and in a record-setting year such as this one, their achievements become even more outstanding. We are proud to welcome them into our family of Siemens Scholars and look forward to their participation at the national finals in New York City."

The students presented their research this weekend to a panel of judges from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (host of the Siemens Competition Region Five Finals) and Harvard University.

Individual Winner

Tim Kunisky, a senior at Livingston High School in Livingston, NJ, won the individual category and a $3,000 college scholarship for his mathematics project that brought the full power of sophisticated methods of analytic number theory to the study of the "logarithmic number derivative," a certain very natural arithmetic function. His research, titled Probabilistic Properties of the Logarithmic Number Derivative, may yield insight into long-standing problems in the number theory.

"Mr. Kunisky's research shows a professional level of technique and knowledge of the field, revealing an unexpected and intriguing coincidence," said Dr. Haynes Miller, Professor of Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "His research demonstrates the treasures to be found, even today, in simple and easily stated mathematical problems, and will no doubt stimulate further research in the area."

Among his many academic accomplishments, Mr. Kunisky is currently a member of the National Honor Society as well as the French Honor Society, and is recognized as a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist, AP Scholar with Distinction and Merck State Scholar. He also placed second at the West Point Bridge Design Competition.

Mr. Kunisky was born in Moscow, Russia, and lived there for five years before moving to the United States. His mother is a former chemist and his father a former physicist. Both parents strongly encouraged his inclination towards mathematics, providing an environment conducive to his independent scientific and mathematical development. His mentor was Dr. Alex Kontorovich, Professor of Mathematics at Brown University.

Team Winners

Benjamin Song and Jack Chen, both seniors at Methacton High School in Eagleville, PA, won the team category and will share a $6,000 college scholarship for their biochemistry project entitled Development of a Urine Test for the Early Detection of Cancer. The team's research explored the potential to develop a urine test for the early detection of colorectal cancer, identifying a probable new approach to spot the disease.

"For the first time, it has been demonstrated that it is possible to detect epigenetic markers of colon cancer in urine through PCR-based assays," said Dr. Igor Levchenko, Senior Research Scientist, Department of Biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "The team's research is a first step in developing a non-invasive screening test for colorectal cancer, which is essential for early detection and better treatment outcomes. Mr. Song and Mr. Chen were extremely knowledgeable, and their project was well-designed and intelligent."

As a junior, Mr. Song is currently a member of the National Honor Society, the Academic Decathlon, the Tri-M Music Honor Society, and Treasurer of his school's Science Fair Club. Additionally, Mr. Song and his team placed first in this year's International Science and Engineering Fair. Aside from his academic pursuits, Mr. Song is an accomplished piano player, having recently placed third in the World Piano Competition. He was also selected as a Regional Finalist at the 2008 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology.

Mr. Chen is a National Merit Semifinalist, President of the National Honor Society and Member of the Student Council. He also participates in his school's Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Teams, as well as the Cross Country Team. Mr. Chen is a member of Kids Against Crisis, a school organization that works to spread the word about international and local crises.

The team's mentor was Dr. Ying-Hsiu Su, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Regional Finalists

Regional Finalists each received a $1,000 scholarship.

Regional Finalists in the individual category were:

  • Preetam Dutta, Jonathan Law High School, Milford, CT
  • Richard Ebright, North Brunswick Township High School, North Brunswick, NJ
  • Minhye Kim, Brookline High School, Brookline, MA
  • William Newberry, Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT

Regional Finalists in the team category were:

  • Roger Curley and Dalton Wu, Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, MD
  • Brittney Joyce and Andrew Walsh, Lexington High School, Lexington, MA
  • Keenan Monks, Hazleton Area High School, Hazleton, PA; and Benjamin Kraft, Liberty High School, Bethlehem, PA
  • Jennifer Wang, Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, MD; and Grace Young, The Potomac School, McLean, VA

The Siemens Competition

The Siemens Competition was launched in 1998 to recognize America's best and brightest math and science students. A record number of 1,348 projects were received this year for the Siemens Competition, an increase of 12 percent over 2008 figures. The number of students submitting projects increased by 14 percent while more students than ever, 2,151, registered to enter.

Entries are judged at the regional level by esteemed scientists at six leading research universities which host the regional competitions: California Institute of Technology; Carnegie Mellon University; Georgia Institute of Technology; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; University of Notre Dame; and The University of Texas at Austin.

Winners of the regional events are invited to compete at the National Finals at New York University in New York City, December 3 - December 7, 2009. Visit on December 7, 2009 at 9:30 am EST to view a live webcast of the National Finalist Award Presentation. You can also log into and follow the Siemens Foundation on Twitter ( for the latest information and announcements throughout this year's competition.

About the Siemens Foundation

The Siemens Foundation provides more than $7 million annually in support of educational initiatives in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math in the United States. Its signature programs, the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology and Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement, reward exceptional achievement in science, math and technology. The newest program, The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, encourages K-12 students to develop innovative green solutions for environmental issues. By supporting outstanding students today, and recognizing the teachers and schools that inspire their excellence, the Foundation helps nurture tomorrow's scientists and engineers. The Foundation's mission is based on the culture of innovation, research and educational support that is the hallmark of Siemens' U.S. companies and its parent company, Siemens AG. For more information, visit

The College Board

The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board is composed of more than 5,600 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations. Each year, the College Board serves seven million students and their parents, 23,000 high schools, and 3,800 colleges through major programs and services in college readiness, college admissions, guidance, assessment, financial aid, enrollment, and teaching and learning. Among its best-known programs are the SAT®, the PSAT/NMSQT® and the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®). The College Board is committed to the principles of excellence and equity, and that commitment is embodied in all of its programs, services, activities and concerns. For further information, visit

SOURCE Siemens Foundation

SOURCE Siemens Foundation
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