These Kids Will Change the World

Presenting the 16th Annual Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition Celebrating the Exemplary Achievements of Local Science Students

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 21, 2014) — Since 1999, Dr. Nelson Ying — local scientist, entrepreneur and philanthropist — has partnered with Orlando Science Center to celebrate the exemplary achievements of local science students. From April 25 – 27, five finalists from area high schools will compete for the coveted “Ying Prize” during the Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition. The Grand Prize winner also receives a $5,000 scholarship, a $1,000 award for the student’s science teacher or mentor and another $1,000 for the winner’s school.

To compete in the Ying Competition, each entrant must perform a research project that has the ultimate goal of benefiting humanity. Previous entries have investigated treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, faster delivery of mechanisms for medicine and solutions for beach erosion, just to name a few. Project reports are submitted and reviewed by a distinguished panel of judges including current and retired engineers, scientists, educators, and Dr. Ying, himself.

Five finalists are selected each year to present their findings before the judges’ panel. This year, the project topics range from biomechanical engineering to environmental sciences and reflect Central Florida’s role as an emerging leader in the science and technology industry. Finalists include winners of previous science fair competitions at the county and state level. They include:

  • Catherine Li of Orange County’s Lake Highland Preparatory School

    Over the past few years, Catherine has had the opportunity of researching at the CREOL College of Optics and Photonics and the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida. Her project involves developing a new method to synthesize nanoparticles especially designed for drug delivery applications, with an ultimate goal of cancer treatment. Catherine will be making the trip to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles this May.

  • Sam Brenner of Seminole County’s Seminole High School

    Sam has conducted a number of research projects including work at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair where he investigated music and education, seeking to determine how subjects’ prior levels of musical education affected their emotional responses to specially designed series of chords. He was also selected — as one of 40 top science students in the state of Florida — to attend the Young Scholars Program at Florida State University where he conducted research in computational astrophysics, designing a software package to analyze fractal and multifractal structures in stellar phenomena.

  • Nikhil Patel of Seminole County’s Oviedo High School

    Nikhil is a dual enrollment student at Seminole State College while also conducting research at the Synthetic Reality Lab at the University of Central Florida. He was selected as one of the top 30 middle school science researchers in the country and competed in the Broadcom Masters competition in Washington, D.C. Nikhil’s research project seeks to identify early indicators of cognitive impairment, for instance, the ability to predict the likelihood a person is going to develop Alzheimer’s. His research has earned him first place in his region at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair.

  • Alexandra Gabrielski of Brevard County’s Viera High School

    Alexandra’s project, now in its third year, focuses on algae biofuel and demonstrates her commitment to sustainability. Alexandra has been fortunate to receive many awards for her science fair projects, including best of show in her region at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair. She will be competing at the International Science Fair in Los Angeles. In addition, Alexandra was invited to compete in the International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering and Environment Project Olympiad and the Stockholm Junior Water Prize. Because of her love of science, she volunteers at elementary schools as a mentor to inspire younger children to participate in science activities.

  • Zachary Loeb of Brevard County’s Viera High School

    Zachary has a strong interest in marine biology, green chemistry and finding solutions to prevent and eliminate chemical contaminants that endanger the life in our lakes and waterways. For the past five years, he has conducted research on endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and their effects on aquatic life. He was privileged to conduct his research at the Orange County Utilities Laboratory this year. Zachary is a 2014 Intel Science Talent Search semi-finalist, a 2014 Florida State Science and Engineering Fair Best of Show winner and will compete in the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in May.

On Friday, April 25, the finalists will tour Siemens Energy wind service training center and the OUC water treatment plant. Saturday, April 26, the finalists will meet at Orlando Science Center to present their projects to the judges’ panel and explain how their research benefits humanity, followed by a behind-the-scenes tour. On Sunday, April 27, the event will culminate in an awards luncheon where the Grand Prize winner will be announced at Fulton’s Crab House at Downtown Disney.

For more information on the Dr. Ying Science Competition, please visit or call 407-514-2000.

Download photos of this year’s finalists at the following Dropbox link:

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