Alan John Hu mixed mathematics with computer science and came up with the winning combination in the 44th annual Westinghouse Science Talent Search this week.
Hu, of La Jolla, Calif., took first place and a $12,000 scholarship. First in his class at La Jolla H.S., Hu topped the select group of 40 seniors from 13 states and Puerto Rico by devising a method to speed the location of information in a specific computer file. Hu’s system minimizes the time spent making comparisons in a file and moving tape. He plans to study mathematics and computer science at Stanford University. Anna Asher Penn of Chicago, a student at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools H.
S., was awarded second place and a $10,000 scholarship. For her project, she produced DNA clones of one segment of a bacterial virus that can be used to study how viruses, such as influenza, reproduce in host cells. Penn is continuing research in flatworm regeneration at her high school and plans to study molecular biology at Harvard University.
In another combination of mathematics with computers, Michael Friedman of Brooklyn, N.Y., won third place and a $10,000 scholarship. By running his own number-theoretic fomulas through a computer, Friedman demonstrated that an odd perfect number must be at least 10 to the 79th power. An odd perfect number is one for which the sum of its factors is twice the original number.
No such number has yet been found. Friedman, a student at Stuyvesant H.S., plans on majoring in computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The winners of fourth through sixth places are each awarded $7,500 scholarships. A test of brain hemisphere function while concurrent tasks are performed won fourth place for Michael Steven Graziano of Buffalo, N.Y., a student at City Honors H.
S. His results challenge the accepted theory that when someone performs two tasks at once, the tasks are always controlled by opposite brain hemispheres. John Shu-Shin Kuo of Whitestone, N.Y., a student at Bronx High School of Science, was awarded fifth place for a study of a genetic element of a microbe that can jump from one host to another and make genetic rearrangements possible. Sixth place went to Anthony Mario Ciabarra of Wyncote, Pa.
, a student at Cheltenham H.S. He studied an unusual DNA repair mutation which he believes explains mechanisms involved in the action of carcinogens and viral infections. Scholarships of $5,000 go to the winners of seventh through tenth place. They are Mark Kantrowitz of Brookline, Mass.
, a student at Maimonides School, Michael William Gesner of Avon, Mass., a student at Cardinal Spellman H.S., Audrey Zelicof of New York City, a student at Stuyvesant H.S., and Allan Moises Goldstein of Wyncote, Pa., a student at Cheltenham H.S.
Two alternates were also named in case any of the top 10 winners is not able to accept a scholarship. They are Jonathan Michael Passner of East Brunswick, N.J.
, a student at the Jewish Educational Center, and Mark Raboin Swain of Manassas, Va., a student at Stonewall Jackson H.S. Along with the remaining 28 national winners, they will receive cash awards of $500 each. The competition, with a total of $89,500 in Westinghouse Science scholarships and awards, is conducted by Science Service, Inc.