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Four New York Students Win Regional Siemens Competition At Carnegie Mellon University For Research On Personalized Cancer Treatment And Ozone Resistance

"This is a very impressive work that makes a significant contribution towards developing new methods for computationally-driven personalized cancer treatment," said Dr. Barnabas Poczos, assistant professor of Machine Learning, Carnegie Mellon University. "It is just amazing how deep of an understanding Ivan Paskov already has in optimization theory, machine learning, and biology, and how creatively he used his expertise to create a new method that could potentially save the lives of many patients with cancer."

President of his school's Technology Club, Ivan is also an alto saxophonist in the high school band and jazz band, and a Builder's Club volunteer. He was a perfect scorer and Gold Medalist in the United States Math Talent Search and won both first place and the "Intel Excellence in Computer Science" award at the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair. He hopes to continue his cancer research after college.

Ivan's mentor is Dr. Christina Leslie, head of Computational Biology Laboratory, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The Winning TeamSeniors Priyanka Wadgaonkar, Zainab Mahmood, and JiaWen Pei from George W. Hewlett High School, Hewlett, N.Y.  won the team category and will share a $6,000 scholarship for their project entitled, The Isolation and Characterization of an Ozone Responsive Stress Related Protein (OZS) in Ceratopteris richardii.

The team examined the underappreciated effect of air pollution, particularly ozone, on plant health and crop yield, isolating how plants adapt to that physical stress. They found a correlation between ozone resistance and a gene called "ozone responsive stress related protein (OZS)," which underwent multiple adaptations early in plant evolution, possibly to cope with the effects of ozone. They discovered this gene has the potential to make important crops more resistant to ozone and other physical stressors such as drought and the increasing salinity of soil.

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