Teen Receives $100,000 Science Scholarship

Tuesday, March 13th 2007, 9:57 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Intel Corp. on Tuesday named Mary Masterman of Oklahoma City as the winner of a $100,000 college scholarship after conducting an annual nationwide contest for promising science students.

Masterman, 17, is a senior at Westmoore High School in Oklahoma City. She won the Intel Science Talent Search after building an accurate spectrograph that identifies the specific characteristics, or fingerprints, of different kinds of molecules.

Spectrographs used in research and industry can cost as much as $100,000, Intel spokesman Casey Clark said, but Masterman said her invention _ made of lenses, a laser, some aluminum tubing and a camera _ cost less than $1,000 to make.

Masterman received the honor from Intel Chairman Craig Barrett during a banquet Tuesday night in Washington.

``It was a complete surprise,'' Masterman said. ``I wasn't expecting it.''

Intel officials said more than 1,700 high school seniors across the nation entered the contest, which is in its 66th year. It's the nation's longest-running and most prestigious science competition for high school students, said Brenda Musilli, Intel's director of education.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel has sponsored the competition for the last nine years, Musilli said. The competition's judges include top math, science and engineering professors and medical doctors from across the U.S., she said.

The 40 finalists spent the last week in Washington, where they exhibited their projects at the National Institute of Science and met government officials including Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.

Masterman said she was been interested in science ``ever since I was little. I can't remember ever not being interested.'' She credits her parents, John and Patti Masterman, with encouraging her interest in science.

She said she has not decided yet where she will attend college, but that she would eventually like to become a physicist or chemist, doing scientific research.

``You're not only dealing with the top young person in the science field in the country in Mary, but you're dealing with 40 finalists who are doing breaking-edge research in total,'' Musilli said. ``It's really something that's hard to imagine, how a young person like Mary could even achieve this level of capability at such a young age.

``It's a very special talent these students have.''

Among the former winners of the competition's top award are six Nobel Laureates, three National Medal of Science winners, 10 MacArthur Foundation Fellows and two Fields Medalists.