DURHAM â€“ In what will be the culmination of months of independent biology research, Denver resident Amanda Mason, 17, will submit her findings as an entry in the 2004-2005 Siemens Westinghouse Competition for Math, Science and Technology taking place Sept. 29.
In this competition, remarkably talented high school students challenge themselves through science research to achieve national recognition. The competition is administered by the College Board and funded by the Siemens Foundation.
Amandaâ€™s research involves studying genetic factors involved in distinct species variation and an occurrence known as hybrid sterility. Amanda, left, is shown in the Duke University Biology Laboratory Greenhouse with two species (guttatus and nasutus) of Mimulus, a flowering plant, used in her genetic study.
Amanda first prepared for biology as a sophomore in an independent study with Debbie Kirby, who before retiring in 2001, taught Anatomy, Physiology, and Biology at East Lincoln High School. Following the independent study Amanda scored a 5 on the AP Biology Exam. Based on academic achievement Amanda was admitted as a Junior into the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, NC, a public residential high school available to academically talented North Carolina students. In February 2004, her second semester as a Junior, she developed her research project and requested use of Duke University biology laboratory facilities. Dr. John Willis, Director of Graduate Studies at Duke made the facilities and materials of the University available for Amandaâ€™s research.
Mason was able to continue her studies this past summer through acceptance in the Glaxo Summer Research Program, a program that funds independent research for advanced students. At the end of the summer program students presented preliminary findings and provided a status report to parents and educators in Durham.
The completed findings of Masonâ€™s genetic research project, as part of the Siemens Westinghouse competition, will compete with projects from top academic students throughout the Region. Those selected for further competition are invited to give a presentation at a regional competition. Regional winners receive a $3,000 scholarship and an invitation to the national competition. Competitions are judged by research scientists from leading universities and national laboratories. National runners up receive between $10,000 and $50,000. Top individual and team entries each receive additional scholarships of $100,000.
â€œThe Siemens competition offers promising high school students the opportunity to realize theirs dreams and pursue academic training and careers in the sciences. These are important goals that will help provide our Nation with the next generation of leaders in math and science,â€ said Dr. Kathie L. Olsen, former Chief Scientist at NASA and Associate Director from the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President.
Amanda was awarded Excellence as a Semifinalist in the 2004 USA Biology Olympiad, a separate competition for biology students. Amanda is the daughter of Floyd and Sandra Mason of Denver, NC.
For more information on the Siemens Westinghouse Competition, visit the Web site at http://www.siemens-foundation.org/default.html.