High-School Science Stars From 17 Countries in the Weizmann Institute's Summer Program

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REHOVOT, Israel - July 1, 1997 - Winners of their nations' top science competitions are among the participants in the Weizmann Institute of Science's 29th Dr. Bessie F. Lawrence International Summer Science Institute that will run from July 2 to August 1.

The annual summer program brings together outstanding high school graduates from around the world and offers them the opportunity to learn directly from scientists at the Weizmann Institute.

Of the US students in this year's group, three were finalists and eight were semi-finalists in the annual Westinghouse Science Talent Search. Among other high achievers, Anja Mottok of Germany, for example, came first in her country's national math competition and fifth in its national biology competition, while Serena Tan of Singapore won a gold medal at the 1996 International Chemistry Olympiad and a silver medal in the 1996 Asia-Pacific Mathematics Olympiad.

The 29th Summer Science Institute will be attended by 72 students from 17 countries: 20 from the United States; 12 from the United Kingdom; six from Germany; five from Canada; four from Israel; three each from Brazil, Mexico and Switzerland; two each from Argentina, Colombia, Japan, Singapore, Sweden and Uruguay; and one each from France, the Netherlands, Hungary and Yugoslavia.
The students, who live in the Laub International Science Youth Village on the Institute grounds, attend lectures and work in laboratories with Institute scientists on campus and participate in organized field trips around Israel.

The budding scientists' interests are as diverse as their backgrounds. Westinghouse semi-finalist Sarah Hansen of Columbus, Ohio, for example, was born in El Salvador when her parents were serving in the Peace Corps, and later lived in Bolivia for several years. She is interested in the medicinal potential of plants, particularly those that grow in central Ohio, and has been studying the antifungal properties of the wild flower Queen Ann's Lace.
Chris Snook of Marton, England, has two great loves: mathematics and competitive hammer-throwing. He combines his interests by creating mathematical models of the physical action involved in the sport, thus aiming to improve his performance. He has won local hammer-throwing competitions and competes internationally, and plans eventually to work in applied mathematics.

Elizabeth Karakow of Canada is a health science student at Montreal's Dawson College who wanted to gain practical experience in engineering. To do so, she joined the school's robotics team, where she helped build a robot that could play a modified version of basketball for the Canada First competition. The team won eight out of 11 awards.
Jan Malaskek of Hawaii grew up speaking Japanese and Czech, and learned to speak English only after starting school. His major interest is robotics, and he has been working for the past five years on robot projects at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation. In addition, pacemaker inventor Earl Bakken has helped him spend the past three summers working on robot projects at Bakken's Minnesota-based company, Medtronic. Malaskek won first place at the Hawaii Science Fair and second place at the International Science and Engineering Fair for his robots, and will continue to study robotics at MIT this fall.

"We are excited by the diversity of backgrounds, experiences and interests of our student group this year," says Summer Science Institute director Laura Leibman-Alperson.

Weizmann Institute of Science is a major center of scientific research and graduate study located in Rehovot, Israel.