Four students from UNT's Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science won awards in the 2011 Young Epidemiology Scholars Competition, earning $19,000 in scholarships.
Sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the College Board, the Young Epidemiology Scholars Competition honors outstanding research projects conducted by high school juniors and seniors that focus on behavioral, biological, environmental and social factors that affect health and identify ways to improve the health of the public. The competition awards up to 120 college scholarships each year. More than 560 students nationwide submitted their projects to the competition.
TAMS students Udayan Vaidya and Jessie Ho traveled to Washington, D.C. this month to present their research papers. Vaidya, of Plano, was one of two national finalists from Texas, placing seventh in the nation and winning a $15,000 scholarship for his research to refine a computational model to predict outbreaks of Dengue fever, which is an acute, infectious tropical disease transmitted by mosquitoes, that results in high fever, rash, headache, and severe muscle and joint pain. Vaidya recently received honorable mention for a Goldwater Scholarship for his research.
Ho, of Plano, was one of seven regional finalists from Texas and was awarded $2,000 for her research of HIV in pediatric and maternal patients in Texas border counties and urban areas. TAMS students Anjana Ram and Justin Zhao, both of Plano, were named semifinalists at the competition, and each received a $1,000 scholarship. Ram helped create a rule-based mathematical model to predict the effect of strategic vaccination for influenza, and Zhao studied the dynamics of epidemics through a computational modeling of infectious diseases in diverse populations.
TAMS is a two-year residential program at UNT that allows talented students to complete their freshman and sophomore years of college while earning their high school diplomas. Students enroll in the academy following their sophomore year in high school, live in a UNT residence hall and attend UNT classes with college students. After two years, they enroll at UNT or another university to finish their bachelor's degrees.
Elizabeth Smith with UNT News Service can be reached at Elizabeth.Smith@unt.edu.