FHS senior earns new national science honor

The Foxboro Reporter - January 24, 2013

FHS senior earns new national science honor
By Christine Igo Freeman

 

Foxboro High School senior Aheli Chattopadhyay has a passion for the environment, and earlier this month that passion was rewarded.

Chattopadhyay was named one of 300 semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search 2013. This is a program of the Society for Science & the Public that calls itself the nation's "oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition."

Each semifinalist receives a $1,000 award from the Intel Foundation with an additional $1,000 going to his/her school. The end result is $600,000 in total semifinalist awards.

"It is surreal!" Chattopadhyay said of the honor. "Selecting semifinalists is a really rigorous process, and I feel so honored to have been among those chosen."

She explained that the application itself was similar to applying for college. In addition to including a 21-page research report, she had to write essays and short answers, send in grades and test scores and collect recommendations from her teachers and her research mentor.

"It's definitely great to receive an Intel STS scholarship for myself, but I'm even happier that Foxboro High will be receiving $1,000 in my name, because the school's support of my academic endeavors has been so crucial to my success," she said.

The Intel Society for Science and the Public also started a badge initiative, where the projects submitted to the Intel STS competition are judged and awarded badges for merit and excellence. Chattopadhyay was recently awarded the Intel STS Semifinalist Badge, the Intel STS Scientific Report Badge in recognition of an exceptionally well-written college-level report covering research, and the Intel STS Student Initiative Badge in recognition of exceptional effort and accomplishment relative to available resources.

Last spring as a high school junior, Chattopadhyay was awarded a very competitive student research grant from the Marjot Foundation which is based in Falmouth. Her four-year effort of carbon dioxide sequestration earned her First Place Recipient honors and a $4,500 grant to be divided amongst herself, her mentor and her school.

Her mentor is Dr. Prabir Patra of the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Conn. He is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. "I started working with him just prior to my junior year," she said. "Before that, I had conducted all my experiments at home without a mentor."

Chattopadhyay was scheduled to travel to Israel this past November as the sole United States representative at the International Sustainable Energy Conference. Due to the outbreak of fighting in Israel, the conference has been rescheduled for the first week in March. She is looking forward to her upcoming adventure.

"I can't wait to meet my Israeli teammates and the other delegates, as well as to compete and present our projects," she said. "Add in the beautiful city of Eilat, and it's sure to be an incredible experience."

In February, for the second year in a row Chattopadhyay will compete in the American Junior Academy of Science Convention as a member of the Massachusetts delegation. Last year she had to travel to Vancouver, but this year's five-day conference is being held in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Then in March, only two days after she arrives home from Israel, she will compete in the Region III Science and Technology Fair for Southwestern Massachusetts held at Bristol Community College.

As this energetic and enthusiastic scientist reflects, "It's going to be a crazy next couple of months, but I'm excited!"

The National Honor Soicety member looks forward to hearing from colleges in the spring and plans on pursuing Biophysics and Environmental Studies with a longterm goal of becoming a university professor.

The daughter of Bijoy and Susie Chattopadhyay, who moved with her family moved to Foxboro when she was in the eighth grade, Aheli celebrates her 18th birthday today.

Caitlin Feehery