University of Rochester

Local Teen Reaches Final Round in 'Junior Nobel Prize'

January 31, 2003

Phoebe Robeson Rounds, 17, of Irondequoit High School is one of 40 finalists selected from the 1,600 who entered the Intel Science Talent Search, which is often regarded as the "Junior Nobel Prize." She was selected on the strength of her research projects carried out last summer at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). Rounds will now attend the Science Talent Institute in Washington, D.C., in March to compete for college scholarships totaling more than $500,000.

Rounds worked to increase LLE's Omega laser's bandwidth, converting infrared beams to high-frequency ultraviolet beams necessary for fusion. Researchers worldwide are using high-power lasers to create conditions necessary for nuclear fusion, which promises to be a clean, inexhaustible energy supply.

First in her class at Irondequoit High School, Rounds has received numerous awards in music composition, literature, math and science. An accomplished musician, she plays with the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, completed a conducting apprenticeship with the Hochstein Youth Symphony, and counts among her hobbies chamber music performance. She gives private violin lessons in her spare time. The daughter of Eric Rounds and Marcia Robeson, Phoebe hopes to become a teacher and researcher after college.

LLE's primary mission is to study the conditions necessary to create and sustain fusion using the Omega laser. Involving young adults in state-of-the-art science, however, is another important goal of LLE's scientists and engineers.

"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 decade.

Applications for LLE's summer program are sent to area high schools in February or can be obtained directly by calling Jean Steve at 275-9517. For more information about the program itself, contact Craxton at 275-5467.