A local teen has earned recognition in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search for a research project she carried out last summer at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). Yifan Kong of Webster Schroeder High School is among 300 semifinalists nationwide chosen from the 1,794 who entered the competition.
As a semifinalist, Yifan will be awarded $1,000 and her school will receive $1,000 to support its science, math and engineering programs. Yifan, a senior, has a chance to be included among the 40 finalists chosen to attend the Science Talent Institute in March in Washington, D.C. to compete for college scholarships totaling over $600,000.
Yifan worked on the design of an experiment proposed for the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world's largest laser facility. In the experiment, 24 of the NIF's 192 beams are to be used to irradiate and implode a small spherical capsule to produce a short pulse of protons. Yifan carried out a large number of hydrodynamic simulations to optimize the choice and aiming of these beams and produced an innovative design that promises to implode the capsule with a high level of uniformity.
LLE is a major partner in the NIF program and has as its primary mission the study of the conditions necessary to create and sustain fusion. Involving young adults in state-of-the-art science, however, is another important goal that LLE's scientists and engineers take very seriously. LLE started its summer high school program in 1989 and has had 312 participants to date.
"Our program provides a unique educational opportunity for talented high-school students. They're amazingly motivated, and it's exciting to see them recognized as among the best in the nation," said Stephen Craxton, LLE physicist and high-school program director. Students working at the laboratory have made up the large majority of Rochester-area Intel semifinalists honored during the past two decades. Yifan is the 32nd student from the LLE program to become a semifinalist.
Application materials for LLE's summer program can be found on the LLE Web site from early February or can be obtained directly by calling Ms. Jean Steve at 585 275-9517. For more information about the program itself, please contact Dr. Craxton at 585 275-5467.