Two Catlin Gabel Students to Attend the International Science and Engineering Fair

By Gus Edelen O’Brien ‘17

Both Valerie Ding ’15 and Nikhil Murthy ’17 will be attending the International Science and Engineering Fair this year.

The fair asks participants to demonstrate research they have accumulated through a project data book, a research paper, as well as an abstract and a visual presentation. Murthy’s project was titled “Carbon Dioxide Reduction Using a Novel Electrochemical Method” which took home first place in Chemistry as well as the TiE Oregon Entrepreneurship Honorable Mention Award and the Outstanding Chemistry Project Award from the American Chemical Society.

The Oregon Team For ISEF. (Photo: Valerie Ding '15)

The Oregon Team For ISEF. (Photo: Valerie Ding ’15)

Ding’s is “Novel Automated Designs and Rapid Multivariate Optimization of Next-Generation Multi-junction Quantum Dot Solar Cells” which won second place in Energy and Environmental Engineering

The International Science and Engineering Fair is the world’s largest pre-college competition, and more than 1,700 students from over 70 countries join in every year.

CatlinSpeak interviewed Ding and Murthy about their projects and their participation in the International Science and Engineering Fair, which is taking place May 10-15.

How do you present your research to the judges?

Valerie Ding: “The Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) will be May 10-15 in Pittsburgh. It consists of judging sessions in which judges (who hold master’s or Ph.D. degrees in science and engineering fields) interview us one at a time, in about 15-minute intervals, over the course of two days. It’s pretty intense but exciting and often a reunion for some of the more seasoned ISEF-goers. Other days are set-up beforehand, networking events and lectures from Intel and university speakers, a panel of Nobel laureates, and the final awards.”

Nikhil Murthy: “I presented my research in multiple interviews with industry professionals about my research and theory behind my work. This was done throughout the day with regular judging, where judges made a preliminary list of the best projects. I was further judged by a panel regarding the top spots in the fair and who would qualify for ISEF.”

Would you please explain what Science Research you presented for the expo?

Valerie Ding: “My project deals with solar panels. Ultimately, I am working on engineering more efficient and more cost-effective solar panels using tiny clusters of particles called quantum dots. The goal on a global scale is energy sustainability, and this is becoming especially relevant as countries around the world, especially in Europe, consider moving into 100% solar/wind energy constituency in the next few decades. Energy sustainability is my lifelong goal and I am working toward a career in energy technology engineering and policy.”

Nikhil Murthy: “My science project is about reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to formic acid using nanoparticles (tiny, tiny particles). I did this through an electrochemical reaction, which basically means that I applied a voltage that facilitated the reduction process. The efficiency of the reduction increased by a great degree (many times over) by adding these nanoparticles which minimal power consumption. This would be used to help reduce the rising carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere, which has been steadily increasing and shows no sign of reversing.”

You’ve both been to “The International Science and Engineering Fair” before, would you explain the atmosphere and the chronology of the event?

Nikhil Murthy: “I did go to ISEF last year in Los Angeles, and it was a great! I am excited to go back this year, and looking forward to the great atmosphere and meeting new people. It’s a huge competition, officially, the ‘world’s largest international pre-college science competition.’ Over 70 countries participate, so it’s really cool to connect with people across the globe with science and research.”

Celebrate the successes of your peers, Murthy and Ding, as they make their way to the International Science Fair on Sunday, May 10, 2015.