SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — Three Bay Area high school seniors found out Wednesday morning that they have been selected as finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search contest.

Intel staff visited the students at their schools in Saratoga, San Jose and Palo Alto Wednesday to present them with oversized boarding passes for their all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony in March.

One of the finalists is Alissa Zhang, of Saratoga High School. She was selected for her original research project titled “Molecular Fingerprinting of Glucose with Raman and SERS for Noninvasive Diabetes Monitoring.”

Zhang’s research came up with a highly reliable diabetes test that uses tears or urine, rather than a blood test requiring a finger prick, Intel education manager Julie Dunkle said. The test may address the difficulties in monitoring children for diabetes who may be afraid of needles, Dunkle said.

In San Jose, Saurabh Sharan of Bellarmine College Preparatory was chosen for his computer science project titled “Parameter Free Graph Based Nuclear Segmentation in Cellular Images Using Morphological Cues.”

Jin Pan, of Gunn High School in Palo Alto, was chosen for her work in bioinformatics and genomics, “A Novel Protein Translation Kinetics Model Supports the Ribosomal Pause Theory.”

The 40 finalists were selected from more than 1,800 applicants from 500 high schools in 44 states.

The three students will travel to Washington, D.C., with the other finalists for a black-tie gala on March 13 where the winners will be announced.

More than $1.25 million in awards will be given out that day, including a four-year, $100,000 scholarship for the top prize, a $75,000 scholarship for second place, and a $50,000 scholarship for third place.

All of the finalists will receive a scholarship of at least $7,500.

Last year, another Bay Area resident, Evan O’Dorney of Danville, took the top $100,000 prize.

O’Dorney won for a mathematics project comparing two ways to estimate the square root of an integer. Contest officials said O’Dorney’s research could have applications in mechanical design, quantum mechanics and cryptography.

The contest has been under way for 70 years, and Intel has sponsored it for the past 13 years.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  1. Utkash says:

    Correction: Jin Pan is a male, not a female as the story assumes.