Today’s news:

Two boro high schoolers advance in Intel contest

Two Queens residents who attend Bronx High School of Science were chosen as finalists in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search.

Rego Park resident Suhan Li and Raminder Kaur Parihar of Floral Park were tapped along with four other students to represent the city at the finals in Washington.

Both seniors said they were overjoyed and they hope to continue their research. Li was chosen for his physics project titled, “Surface-induced Coherence in Atomic Fluorescence Decay Rates,” while Parihar reached the finals for her work studying “glutamate excitotoxicity” as one possible cause of Parkinson’s disease.

“I was surprised,” said Li, a native of Shanghai, China, who came to the United States in 1991. The 18-year-old said he is anxious to test his results in a laboratory setting.

“I was very surprised I won because I did not expect to get this far,” said Parihar, 18, a member of the school’s science club and the Indian Cultural Society. “I am happy that all of my hard work paid off.”     

Some 1,562 applicants entered the prestigious talent search, sometimes referred to as the “Junior Nobel Prize.” Across the country, 300 high school seniors, including 19 from Queens, were awarded semifinal slots, but Li and Parihar were the only borough residents to reach the finals with 38 other contenders.

Li developed an interest in physical science in an AP Physics class and began work on his optics project in September 2000 with the assistance of Professor Duo Lin of the State University of New York at Buffalo.

His work has already been published in the academic journal, “Physics Letters A.”

Perihar worked with Dr. Diana Casper at the Department of Neurosurgery at New York’s Montefiore Hospital two days a week during the school year and every day during the summer She noted that Parkinson’s disease could be delayed or prevented by blocking a particular glutamate receptor or keeping it in an immature state.

She wants to continue her research in the future looking at the neuron receptors and the molecular components responsible for the disease.

Perihar described herself as “a bit overwhelmed” by all of the accolades over the past few weeks, especially because she did not think her work was on the same level as that of her fellow students.

“I looked at the other papers prepared by my friends and they had chosen hard topics, which were more complicated,” she said. “I thought the judges would choose the more complicated topics.”

Li is waiting to hear from 10 colleges, including his top choices of Stanford, Princeton and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He originally thought of studying medicine, but said the Intel project awakened within him an interest in physical science he plans to pursue academically.

Parihar applied to eight schools that offer six- to eight-year bachelor’s and M.D. degrees, but Union College is her first choice. After graduating, she is unsure whether to practice medicine exclusively or perform research. She is considering doing both.

Li and Parihar will now embark on an all-expense-paid trip to Washington where they will compete for a pool of college scholarships totaling $530,000.

Li said he has visited Washington “two times before” and looks forward to touring the Central Intelligence Agency technology labs on his upcoming trip.

“This is something different,” he said.

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