DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Yieu Chyan of Denton, a student at UNT's Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, is one of 40 students in the nation selected as a finalist in the 2007 Intel Science Talent Search.
Chyan is the son of Oliver Chyan, a professor of chemistry at UNT, and Jin-Jian Chen, both of Denton. He is a second-year student at TAMS, 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.
Chyan is one of two finalists in this year's Intel Science Talent Search from a Texas school. He was first selected Jan. 17 as one of 300 semifinalists, chosen from more than 1,700 applicants. He was one of 16 semifinalists from Texas and one of five from TAMS. TAMS had the largest number of semifinalists from a Texas school.
The Intel Science Talent Search is the nation's premier program to recognize high school student research in science, mathematics and engineering. Past honorees of the 65-year-old program later became recipients of Nobel Prizes, National Medals of Science, MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and other prestigious science and math awards.
Since 1993, 40 TAMS students have been named semifinalists in the competition. Eight of those students were also named finalists.
As a finalist, Chyan is guaranteed at least a $5,000 scholarship, after receiving $1,000 for being named a semifinalist. He also received an Intel Centrino mobile technology-based notebook computer.
Chyan and the other finalists will attend the Intel Science Talent Search Institute in Washington, D.C., March 8-13 to compete for 10 scholarships ranging from $20,000 to $100,000. During the institute, they will present their research to a panel of judges and meet distinguished scientists and representatives from Congress. Scholarship winners will be announced at a dinner the evening of March 13.
Chyan says being named an Intel finalist is "an unexpected honor."
"I'm very grateful to be recognized, and I'm quite excited to go to Washington," he says.
For his Intel project, Chyan worked in the laboratory of a family friend, Rigoberto Advincula, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Houston. He studied the conditions for the formation of thin films for use in organic photoelectric devices, which directly convert absorbed photons into electrical power. Chyan investigated methods to improve the films and their efficiencies in order to design devices based on organic materials, which are potentially more cost effective than silicon-based materials.
Chyan worked at Advincula's laboratory the past two summers. He has continued the research in his father's laboratory at UNT during the fall and spring semesters, corresponding with Advincula by e-mail and phone.
Richard Sinclair, TAMS dean, called Chyan "a problem solver and a natural scientist."
"As a small child he devised experiments to learn why things were the way they were. His research these days is on how to create affordable materials that can be used to trap the sun's energy. It is very sophisticated, and very topical. He promises to be a major contributor to our society," Sinclair says.
Chyan was previously honored for his research when he was selected as a regional finalist in the 2006 Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology, which was established in 1999 and is funded by the Siemens Foundation. He was one of 13 students from Texas schools, and one of two TAMS students, chosen from the Southwestern Region. Eight other TAMS students were named semifinalists in the competition. As a regional finalist, Chyan presented his research before a panel of judges to try to qualify for the national competition.
He is the co-author of two scientific papers about his research and has attended the annual American Chemical Society National Meeting and two Robert A. Welch Foundation Chemical Conferences.
Chyan was home schooled before he entered TAMS in August 2005. He has a perfect grade point average at TAMS and was named the outstanding freshman by the UNT Department of Chemistry. He is an officer with the TAMS Research Club; a member of the TAMS Judicial Board, National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta math club; and a volunteer tutor with the UNT Learning Center. Chyan also volunteers regularly at the Denton Teen Court.
An accomplished violinist and pianist, Chyan won first place for the Southwest Division in the Music Teachers National Association Composition Contest and plays with a Texas Music Teachers Association piano ensemble.
After graduating from TAMS this May, Chyan plans to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Washington University in St. Louis and major in biochemistry. He hopes to eventually earn a doctoral degree and become a researcher.
Other students from TAMS who were named semifinalists in this year's Intel Science Talent Search are:
- Amelia Lin, second-year student from Plano.
- Monica Lu, second-year student from Plano.
- David Ouyang, second-year student from Houston.
- Alisha Seam, second-year student from San Antonio.
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