University of Rochester

Local Teen Reaches Final Round in 'Junior Nobel Prize'

January 28, 2005

Bruce Brewington, 17, of Fairport 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." He was selected on the strength of his research projects carried out last summer at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). Brewington will now attend the Science Talent Institute in Washington, D.C., in March to compete for college scholarships totaling more than $500,000.

Brewington worked to minimize defects in the pellets the LLE's Omega laser fires upon to create fusion. The pellets are only a millimeter across, and are incredibly smooth and spherical. Brewington developed a computer program that imaged each particle from multiple angles and identified and characterized defects. Slight deformities in a pellet can greatly alter the integrity of an experiment.

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 (585) 275-9517. For more information about the program, contact Craxton at (585) 275-5467.