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Awards and Honors

Natalia Toro with her winning Intel Science Talent Search project, based on work done last summer at MIT.
Natalia Toro with her winning Intel Science Talent Search project, based on work done last summer at MIT.
Photo courtesy / Intel

Natalia Toro, a 14-year-old high school senior at Fairview High School in Boulder, CO, won top honors in the Intel Science Talent Search (formerly the Westinghouse Science Search). She won for research she did at MIT last summer under the supervision of Professor of Physics Edmund Bertschinger as part of the Research Science Institute. Natalia, who hopes to attend MIT and earn a doctorate in physics, won for a project entitled "Independent Analysis of Evidence for nmsrnt Oscillations in the SuperKamiokande Atmospheric Neutrino Data." She studied oscillations of neutrinos, the most elusive of subatomic particles. Such work may help explain mysterious shortages in neutrino counts and have a fundamental impact on high-energy physics. Natalia is the youngest student in the 58-year history of the program to win the top prize, a college scholarship of $50,000, and is the second female in six years to win top honors. Keith Winstein, 17, a senior at Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) in Aurora, IL, who also hopes to attend MIT, won the third-place scholarship of $30,000 for his computer science project titled "Lexical Steganography Through Adaptive Modulation of the Word Choice Hash."

Chemistry graduate student Alexander Akhiezer has won a 1999 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. He was one of 30 immigrants or children of immigrants to the United States chosen from 1,215 applicants for the fellowship, which pays half the tuition cost for graduate study and a grant of $20,000 a year for two years. Mr. Akhiezer, 28, was born in Ukraine, studied physics at Kharkov University and came to the United States just before his last year of undergraduate study. He received his degree in biochemistry from New York University. The fellowships were established last year by philanthropists Paul and Daisy Soros "to encourage young people with leadership qualities... who will contribute something to this country in whatever area of endeavor they choose."

Dean Philip S. Khoury of the School of Humanities and Social Science (SHSS) has announced that the 1999 Levitan Prize in the Humanities has been awarded to Associate Professor Anne McCants of the history section. Professor McCants, who has been at MIT since 1991, is pursuing research in the economic and social history of early modern Europe, particularly in the areas of demographic change, social welfare, labor-market participation and material culture. Her winning proposal was entitled "Accounting for Taste: Consumer Cultures of the Dutch Republic." The $20,000 prize, first awarded in 1990, supports innovative and creative scholarship in the humanities by SHSS faculty members. It was established through a gift from James A. Levitan (SB 1945, chemistry), a member of the MIT Corporation and a senior partner in the New York law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom. Professor McCants also recently received the Mary Lyon Award from the Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Association, where she received the AB in economics and European studies in 1984 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

The MIT chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers has won several regional awards. It was named Distinguished Chapter and Large Chapter of the Year for Region 1 (which includes New England, New York, New Jersey and parts of Canada). A "large chapter" is any chapter located in a region with more than 65 members. Nia Jetter, a junior in mathematics, won first place in the Undergraduate Student Technical Research Competition for Region 1. The MIT chapter also won the Technical Bowl Competition in Region 1, and it was also honored for its work in organizing and sponsoring a group at John D. O'Bryant High School in Cambridge, which was named NSBE Region 1 Junior Chapter of the Year. At the NSBE national convention in Kansas City at the end of March, the MIT chapter and Ms. Jetter will compete for top US honors.

Professor of Chemical Engineering Clark N. Colton has been recognized for his achievements in tissue engineering and biofiltration with several honors, including the Lifetime Contribution Award in Bioartificial Organs from the Engineering Foundation. Working with a multidisciplinary team, he has done research on developing an artificial pancreas for treating diabetes, publishing numerous papers on therapeutic systems incorporating both synthetic polymers and living tissue. Last year, in its series on "Milestones in Nephrology," the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology republished a 1975 paper he co-authored on hemodiafiltration. Professor Colton was also recently elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

A version of this article appeared in the March 17, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 23).

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