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UNT Insider | March 2012 issue | TAMS student named finalist in 2012 Intel Science Talent Search

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TAMS student named finalist in 2012 Intel Science Talent Search

From a UNT News Service press release

Kurtis Carsch

Kurtis Carsch

Kurtis Carsch, a student in UNT's Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, was named one of 40 finalists in the 2012 Intel Science Talent Search.

As a finalist, Carsch presented his work on developing a way to more efficiently convert methane gas into methanolin in Washington, D.C., in early March. He competed with 39 other finalists for $630,000 in awards, including a top prize of $100,000. In addition to the rigorous judging process, Carsch and the other finalists had the opportunity to meet with national leaders and display their research at the National Geographic Society.

Finalists were selected from a pool of 300 semifinalists, which included Carsch and eight other TAMS students. TAMS tied for fourth among all schools in the nation for having the most semifinalists from a single school. More than 1,800 high-school aged students submitted projects to the prestigious competition this year.

Other TAMS Intel Science Talent Search 2012 semifinalists were:

  • Favyen Bastani for his project Compositional Genetic Algorithm for Multi-Objective Composition-Based Optimization Problems
  • Mitchell Powell for his project Determining Optimal Density Functional Theory Methods for Transition-Metal Thermochemistry
  • Amanda Quay for her project Utilizing Predictive Fields of Space for Organic Compound Solubilities to Analyze Toxicology of Pharmaceuticals
  • Adam Su for his project Rank-Generating Functions for the Distributive Lattice of Order Ideals for Comb Posets
  • Lisa Su for her project Polymeric Sealants for the Improvement of Effectiveness of Thermoelectric Power Generation
  • Alan Zhao for his project Fabrication and Characterization of Thermoplastic Vulcanized Elastomer Composites with Recycled Wood
  • Michael Zhou for his project Basis Set Reconstruction for Quantum Mechanics: Towards Computational Cost Reduction
  • Jonathan Zhu for his project Electronic Structure and Potential Energies of Transition Metal Tetrahalides

Since 2010, Carsch has been working on his project, DFT Modeling of a Methane-to-Methanol Oxy-Insertion Catalytic Cycle via Group 6 Organometallics: A Computational Analysis, in UNT's Center for Advanced Scientific Computing and Modeling (CASCaM). Under the direction of Thomas Cundari, Regents Professor of chemistry, Carsch has been developing and testing catalyst molecules that would allow methane gas to be converted into methanol in a more efficient manner, which would allow the fuel to be burned and transported more easily. His work is part of a larger project that is funded by the United States Department of Energy's Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon Functionalization.

After he graduates in May, Carsch hopes to study nuclear chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

About TAMS

TAMS is a two-year residential program that allows exceptionally talented students to complete their freshman and sophomore years of college while receiving the equivalent of 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.

Alyssa Yancey with UNT News Service can be reached at

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March 2012

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