The Winning Individual for Region OneVineet Edupuganti, a senior from Oregon Episcopal School in Portland, OR, won the individual category and a $3,000 scholarship for his project entitled, "Development of a High-Performance Biodegradable Battery for Transient Electronics." Vineet's work could simplify how medical practitioners diagnose conditions that affect internal organs. He developed a biodegradable battery that can power ingestible medical devices. The battery dissolves after the device has served its purpose, which means it can be swallowed without causing harm to the human body. This technology can be used to power medical devices that track and diagnose conditions that affect internal organs, like gastrointestinal disorders, which currently require complex imaging or invasive procedures to diagnose. "Imagine, instead of going in for an MRI, you swallow a pill with an ingestible sensor and for the next three days it tracks what's happening in your body and sends that data wirelessly to your doctor. Then, once it's served its purpose, the pill dissolves and causes no harm to you. That's what Vineet's battery could make possible," explains competition judge Dr. Julia Greer, Professor of Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Medical Engineering at Caltech. "This is an innovative, creative and original project that represents Vineet's own independent thinking and troubleshooting." Vineet is an aspiring entrepreneur who would like to find real-world applications for research that he can eventually take to market. He is fascinated by the newly-emerging field of biodegradable electronics because he sees its potential to affect change in a wide array of industries. Vineet received a third place grand award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2015 and 2016. He plays classical piano, guitar and tennis. Vineet's mentor is Dr. Raj Solanki, Professor of Physics at Portland State University. The Winning Team for Region One Nikhil Cheerla of Cupertino, CA, and Anika Cheerla of Cupertino, CA, won the team category and will share a $6,000 scholarship for their project entitled "Mitosis Detection and Tumor Grading Using Deep Convolutional Neural Networks."
Nikhil and Anika are a brother-sister duo who developed an artificial intelligence tool that could potentially automate the detection of cancerous tumors and measure the stage of tumor growth. Currently, tumor diagnosis is a laborious and error-prone task. Once a patient biopsy is taken, pathologists must manually identify and count the number of cancerous cells that are undergoing division, which can take many hours. At times, pathologists can disagree on details of a diagnosis. Nikhil and Anika's technology aims to automate tumor diagnosis and growth measurement by assessing the pattern of cell divisions in a tissue, which is a step towards making the process more accurate, faster, and replicable."Nikhil and Anika's research shows not only creativity but also initiative to solve real-world problems," said competition judge Dr. Alexandre Cunha, Director of the Center for Advanced Methods in Biological Image Analysis at Caltech. "Using artificial intelligence to address the important problem of automatic cancer detection through computing is of great societal value. This innovation could potentially save pathologists hours of tedious manual image analysis, improve performance, and quantify cancer severity in a patient more reliably. Nikhil and Anika have shown maturity to take on such an important project at the graduate school level." Nikhil, a senior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, CA, is passionate about artificial intelligence and hopes to develop new learning algorithms to tackle real-world problems. He has been a Google Science Fair regional finalist, a USA Computing Olympiad platinum level finalist and a Siemens Competition semifinalist in 2015. He is also passionate about teaching others. He runs a volunteer organization called MathAndCoding, which teaches young students programming and computer science skills through free workshops in libraries and community centers. He is a piano player and enjoys composing and playing his own music. Anika, a sophomore at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, CA, realized she was interested in STEM when she saw her brother Nikhil enjoying science projects and solving math problems. She is a leader and teacher at MathAndCoding, the educational coding nonprofit founded by her brother. Her proudest accomplishment was teaching her first student how to code and seeing him come back for harder sessions. Anika is a two-time Google Science Fair winner and aspires to a career in artificial intelligence. She plays piano, competes in varsity and club water polo and has a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
The team's mentor is Andrew Beck, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of Bioinformatics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).Regional Finalists The remaining regional finalists each received a $1,000 scholarship. Regional Finalists in the individual category were:
- Kathy Liu, West High School, Salt Lake City, UT
- Sagar Maheshwari, Unionville High School, Kennett Square, PA
- Brian Xia, Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego, CA
- Catherine Zeng, Mission San Jose High School, Fremont, CA
- Rajiv Movva, The Harker School, San Jose, CA, and Randy Zhao, The Harker School, San Jose, CA
- Arushi Sahai, Menlo School, Atherton, CA, and Andrew Shao, Lynbrook High School, San Jose, CA
- Andrew Winnicki, Punahou School, Honolulu, HI, and John Winnicki, Punahou School, Honolulu, HI
- Daniel Zhang, Westview High School, San Diego, CA, and Edward Zhang, Torrey Pines High School, San Diego, CA