University of Rochester

Three Local Teens Make Semi-Finals in National Science Competition

January 19, 2004

Three local teens have earned recognition in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search for research projects they carried out last summer at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). It was announced today that Rohan Kekre of McQuaid Jesuit High School, Nadine Lippa of Byron-Bergen High School, and Anthony Noto of Greece Athena High School are among the 300 semifinalists nationwide chosen from the record number of 1,652 who entered the competition, which is often regarded as a “Junior Nobel Prize.”

In recognition of their scientific achievements, each student will receive $1,000, and each school will receive $1,000 to support their science and math programs. The students, all seniors, will learn on January 28 whether they will be included among the 40 finalists chosen to attend the Science Talent Institute in Washington, D.C. in March to compete for college scholarships totaling over $500,000.

Kekre worked out a new method for tuning the frequency conversion crystals on the 60-beam Omega laser at LLE, currently the world’s most powerful laser of its type. Lippa carried out an experimental project dedicated to developing a single-photon source with applications to quantum cryptography, and Noto performed complex computer calculations of chiral dye molecules of relevance both to optics and to pharmaceutical design.

The primary mission of the laser laboratory 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 that LLE’s scientists and engineers take very seriously.

“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 Ms. Jean Steve at 275-9517. For more information about the program itself, please contact Dr. Craxton at 275-5467.