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Home > Press > Teens Claim Top Prizes in 2011 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology For Designing Nanoparticle to Fight Cancer and Applying Gaming Technology to Human Health

The year's highest science honor for high school students was awarded today to biochemistry research on cancer stem cells and an innovative use of gaming technology in the area of leg injuries and prosthetics in the 2011 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, America's premier science research competition for high school students.

Teens Claim Top Prizes in 2011 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology For Designing Nanoparticle to Fight Cancer and Applying Gaming Technology to Human Health

Washington, DC | Posted on December 6th, 2011

Administered by the College Board, the Siemens Competition is a signature program of the Siemens Foundation, which supports science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The 13th annual awards were presented this morning at the George Washington University, host of the 2011 Siemens Competition National Finals.

Angela Zhang, a senior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, Calif., won the $100,000 Grand Prize in the Individual category for using nanotechnology to eradicate cancer stem cells. Ziyuan Liu and Cassee Cain, seniors at Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tenn., will share the $100,000 Grand Prize in the Team category for using new gaming technology to analyze human walking patterns, work that could ultimately be used in prosthesis design for amputees.

"It is a remarkable day for American innovation when our high school students do science research at this level," said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, president of the Siemens Foundation. "I hope other students will follow their example and embrace STEM subjects with such vigor. These young innovators are poised to drive the next generation of advances in science and technology."

Six individuals and six teams competed at the National Finals this weekend after winning one of six regional competitions in November. They presented their research to a panel of judges comprised of nationally renowned scientists and mathematicians headed by lead judge Michael W. Plesniak, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, the George Washington University. Today's $100,000 winners will ring The Closing Bell™ at the New York Stock Exchange on Jan. 26.

The Winning Individual
Angela Zhang won a $100,000 college scholarship for her project, Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells.

"Angela created a nanoparticle that is like a Swiss army knife of cancer treatment," said competition judge Dr. Tejal Desai, professor, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, University of California, San Francisco. "She showed great creativity and initiative in designing a nanoparticle system that can be triggered to release drugs at the site of the tumor while also allowing for non-invasive imaging. Her work is an important step in developing new approaches to the therapeutic targeting of tumors via nanotechnology."

In her project, Angela aimed to design a targeted gold and iron oxide-based nanoparticle with the potential to eradicate cancer stem cells through a controlled delivery of the drug salinomycin to the site of the tumor. The multifunctional nanoparticle combines therapy and imaging into a single platform, with the gold and iron-oxide components allowing for both MRI and Photoacoustic imaging.

"Angela's commitment to the research was truly impressive," said Dr. Desai. "She has a deep understanding of the multitude of disciplines that went into her project, from designing the nanoparticles to showing their efficacy in vivo."

Angela won the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) Grand Award for medicine and health science in 2011 and 2010. She plays golf and the piano and would like to major in chemical or biomedical engineering or physics. She is a 2010 Siemens Competition Regional Finalist who began her work on this project in 2009 and spent an estimated 1,000 hours on her research. Angela hopes to become a research professor. Her mentor was Dr. Zhen Cheng of Stanford University.

The Winning Team
Ziyuan Liu and Cassee Cain will share a $100,000 college scholarship for their bioengineering project, Using Kinect for Xbox 360 and Computer Vision to Analyze Human Gait, which uses gaming technology to analyze human walking patterns. An accurate understanding of a person's motion is important in prescribing treatment for those with injuries or ailments that affect movement, such as amputees or people with joint replacements. Their work could ultimately contribute to prosthesis design.
"This team's project involved the creative reuse of new gaming technology - the Kinect sensor - with advanced computer vision algorithms," said competition judge Sudeep Sarkar, professor of computer science and engineering, University of South Florida. "When further developed, their system could open avenues to bring personalized rehabilitation to the home. This could potentially reduce medical costs, allowing clinicians to monitor a patient's progress from a remote site."
Ziyuan dreams of becoming the head of a software company or a banking firm. He is the founder of a committee to educate others in his school and community about solar energy. A member of the International Relations Club and French National Honor Society, he enjoys playing the alto saxophone and swimming.
Cassee is the drum major of her high school marching band and costume designer for the drama club. Long interested in healthcare, she dreams of becoming an oncologist. A National Honor Society National Achiever, Cassee plans to major in chemical engineering. The team's mentors on the project were Dr. John K. Mueller and Dr. Boyd McCutchen Evans III., Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

National Finalists
Six individuals and six teams competed at the Siemens Competition National Finals. The remaining National Finalists were awarded the following scholarships:
• $50,000 scholarship - Brian Kim, Stuyvesant High School, New York, N.Y. (Mathematics)
• $40,000 scholarship - Sitan Chen, Northview High School, Duluth, Ga. (Mathematics)
• $30,000 scholarship - Joshua Kubiak, Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, Natchitoches, La. (Chemistry)
• $20,000 scholarship - John Wen, West High School, Iowa City, Iowa (Biology)
• $10,000 scholarship - John Solder, Staples High School, Westport, Conn. (Biology)
• $50,000 scholarship - Edgar Wang, Wayne Shu and Justin Yuan, Troy High School, Troy, Mich. (Biology)
• $40,000 scholarship - Julia Crowley Farenga and Patrick Loftus, Evanston Township High School, Evanston, Ill. (Astrophysics)
• $30,000 scholarship - Blake Smith, Oceanside High School, Oceanside, N.Y., and Vickram Gidwani, Horace Mann High School, Bronx, N.Y. (Biochemistry)
• $20,000 scholarship - Andrew Xu, Lowell High School, San Francisco, Calif., Kevin Chang, Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Denton, Texas, and Kevin Tian, Westwood High School, Austin, Texas (Mathematics)
• $10,000 scholarship - Jeffery Ling, Palo Alto Senior High School, Palo Alto, Calif., and Helen Jiang, Henry M. Gunn High School, Palo Alto, Calif. (Bioengineering)

The Siemens Competition

Launched in 1998, the Siemens Competition is the nation's premier science research competition for high school students. An all-time record of 2,436 students registered to enter the Siemens Competition this year for an unprecedented 1,541 projects submitted. Three hundred seventeen students were named semifinalists and 96 were named regional finalists, representing 21 states. Entries are judged at the regional level by esteemed scientists at six leading research universities which host the regional competitions: California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Notre Dame and The University of Texas at Austin.

Follow the Siemens Foundation on Twitter ( and Facebook ( to learn about the remarkable research being done by this year's brilliant Siemens Scholars. Visit for a webcast of the National Finalist Awards Presentation.

The Siemens Foundation

The Siemens Foundation provides more than $7 million annually in support of educational initiatives in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the United States. Its signature programs include the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement, and The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, which encourages K-12 students to develop innovative green solutions for environmental issues. By supporting outstanding students today, and recognizing the teachers and schools that inspire their excellence, the foundation helps nurture tomorrow's scientists and engineers. The foundation's mission is based on the culture of innovation, research and educational support that is the hallmark of Siemens' U.S. companies and its parent company, Siemens AG. For more information, visit

The College Board

The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of more than 5,900 of the world's leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools. For further information, visit


For more information, please click here

Lauren Espin
Siemens Foundation

Lisa Quirindongo
Dentsu Communications

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