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3 Montgomery Blair students finalists in Intel Science Talent Search

Thursday - 1/23/2014, 5:48am  ET

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From left, Jessica Shi, Neil Davey and Shaun Datta are among 40 finalists in the 2014 Intel Science Talent Search. They attend Montgomery Blair High School. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)

SILVER SPRING, Md. - At Montgomery Blair High School, the future is bright -- as in, really intelligent.

Three students were named finalists in the 2014 Intel Science Talent Search. Only 40 students in the country earned such a distinction, and Montgomery Blair leads the way with the most finalists.

"I don't think that's a coincidence," says Shaun Datta, a finalist whose work looked at limiting cases of quantum chromodynamics.

"We have this great program that draws in the most enthusiastic, passionate students from around the county," he says.

"We also have a very highly capable staff, and that combination really brings together this great academic environment that I think produces good research every year," Datta says.

Datta, Neil Davey and Jessica Shi are part of Montgomery Blair's Science, Mathematics and Computer Science Magnet Program.

The Society for Science & the Public selected the 40 finalists from a group of 300. Four of the finalists attend schools in Maryland.

Davey's work centered on early cancer diagnosis.

"What I did in the project is take the blood and encapsulate it into microfluidic drops, and through an amplification based reaction, you can detect which cells are cancer cells - called circulating tumor cells - and isolate them from the rest of the cells in your body," he says.

Shi focused her work on the speeds of families of intersection graphs.

It sounds dizzying, but she explains.

"It has applications in terms of DNA mapping and some in terms of sensor networks and mobile networks," Shi says.

"It makes certain classes of graphs easier to understand if we understand the structure of these intersection graphs."

The finalists converge on Washington March 6 to March 12. The grand prize is $100,000.

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