Students from Florida, Virginia and California Named Region Six Siemens Competition Winners

Winners From Regional Competition Move on to National Finals in
Washington, D.C.

Maria Grimmett (Jupiter, Fla.) Wins Top Individual Honors;
Chae (Oakton, Va.), Sidharth Bommakanti (Pleasanton, Calif.) and Alan
Tan (Fremont, Calif.) Win Top Team Honors

ISELIN, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Months of research and preparation in science, technology, engineering
and mathematics (STEM) fields paid off for four students named National
Finalists in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology after
earning top spots in Region Six. Maria Grimmett of Jupiter, Fla.
earned top individual honors and a $3,000 scholarship for research on
alternative water purification methods. Research on 3-D tissue printing
earned Daniel Chae of Oakton, Va.; Alan Tan of Fremont,
Calif.; and Sidharth Bommakanti of Pleasanton, Calif. the $6,000
shared team scholarship and spots in the finals of the nation’s premier
research competition for high school students.

The students presented their research this weekend to a panel of judges
at the Georgia Institute of Technology, host of the Region Six Finals.
The top winners are now moving to the final round to present their work
at the National Finals in Washington, D.C., December 4-8, 2015, where
$500,000 in scholarships will be awarded, including two top prizes of
$100,000. The Siemens Competition, a signature program of the Siemens
Foundation, is administered by Discovery Education.

“These students have invested significant time and energy developing
highly sophisticated projects that advance research and exploration in
critical fields,” said David Etzwiler, CEO of the Siemens Foundation. “I
commend the finalists for their outstanding achievements and wish them
the best in the next phase of the competition.”

The Winning Individual for Region Six

Maria Grimmett, a senior from Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches in
West Palm Beach, Fla., won the individual category and a $3,000
scholarship for her project entitled, “Adsorption of Sulfamethazine from
Environmentally Relevant Aqueous Matrices onto Hypercrosslinked
Adsorbent MN250”.

Maria used a commercially available polymer to remove antibiotic
molecules from the ground water. Maria first became interested in her
topic because she wanted to know why her well water was brown. That
year, she performed a science project on removing fulvic and humic
acids, or common plant products, from water using three different anion
exchange resins.

“This project exemplifies a systematic investigation with a clearly
defined purpose; it’s the breadth of understanding the adsorption
process for efficient removal of antibiotics from ground water that is
so impressive.” said competition judge Dr. Jie Xu, Senior Research
Scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Maria demonstrated a
clear understanding of her subject and collected quality data due to her
very systematic research methods. Maria’s research can be expanded on to
explore removal of other contaminants for water purification in the

Maria anticipates majoring in engineering in college, and her favorite
course right now is computer science. She is also a member of her
school’s weekly Computer Science Club. Maria believes computer modeling
and programming skills will prove useful in any scientific or
engineering discipline.

Outside of the classroom, Maria is a mural artist and Art Club teacher’s
assistant at the Weiss Elementary School. In this capacity, she paints
murals in the school hallways and helps students with art projects. She
also plays clarinet and is a member of her school’s Fencing Club. In
January 2013, she became the youngest author to publish original
research in the 43-year history of the Journal of Environmental

With two peer-reviewed articles already published in science journals,
Maria believes that elementary school science teachers need to make
science personal, fun, and hands-on in order to encourage more students
to pursue STEM careers.

Maria’s mentor is Dr. Hui Li, Associate Professor of Environmental and
Soil Chemistry at Michigan State University.

The Winning Team for Region Six

Daniel Chae of Oakton, Va., Sidharth Bommakanti of Pleasanton, Calif.
and Alan Tan of Fremont, Calif., won the team category and will share a
$6,000 scholarship for their project entitled, “A Novel Study on the
Effect of Surface Topography of 3-D Printed PLA Scaffolds on Dental Pulp
Stem Cell Proliferation and Differentiation in vitro.”

The team examined 3-D printed structures as a novel substrate for dental
pulp stem cells (DPSCs) for use as implants. Utilizing 3-D printed
scaffolds to create dental implants, the team laid the groundwork for
engineering tissues in the future. A common interest in the rapid rise
of 3-D printing applications and the potential for stem cells to
dramatically advance the repair of hard and soft tissues inspired the
team to pursue this research.

“This project shows great promise to combine the fields of stem cell
research and material science to improve human health,” said competition
judge Dr. Fredrik Vannberg, Biology Professor at the Georgia Institute
of Technology. “There is great potential for further research in the
therapeutic use of 3-D printers to create both hard and soft tissue.”

Daniel Chae, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and
Technology in Alexandria, Va., currently serves as the co-president of
his school’s Latin Honor Society, is proficient in Korean and also
enjoys archery. After school, Daniel serves as a chemistry and biology
tutor for other students. He believes that if there were to be a
dramatic advancement of society using discoveries in science, then more
people would engage in science and math. He found that although
overwhelming at times, the amount of dedication and work to conduct the
research and write up the paper was highly rewarding. Daniel served as
the project’s team lead.

Alan Tan, a senior at Irvington High School in Fremont, Calif., aspires
to be a medical researcher. More specifically, what interested him in
his current area of research is the potential for dental pulp stem cells
(DSPCs) to circumvent ethical concerns about using stem cells for
research. He soon found himself engrossed in the subject, learning that
DSPCs are a source of stem cells that could be very useful in the
regeneration of various body parts, including bones. Outside of the
classroom, Alan has been recognized for his volunteer service – earning
a Presidential Service Award. He also is a mentor in STEM subjects at
school, serves as vice president of his school’s science club, plays the
piano, and likes to play basketball. Alan anticipates majoring in either
chemistry or biochemistry in college.

Sidharth Bommakanti, a senior at Amador Valley High School in
Pleasanton, Calif., wants to pursue a career in medicine. His interest
in the field has been fueled by his passion for biology, and the
potential for biological science to impact lives lies at the root of
this. Sidharth also tutors underclassmen in chemistry and biology. He
anticipates majoring in molecular and cellular biology. Outside of
school, Sidharth participates in Project Wellness Water, a dual
filtration system that purifies contaminated water in rural communities.
He also serves as vice president of his school’s Environmental Club, and
volunteers at Valley Care Hospital. In his free time Sidharth enjoys
tennis and basketball.

The team’s mentor is Dr. Adriana Pinkas-Sarafova, Adjunct Assistant
Professor at Stony Brook University.

Regional Finalists

The remaining regional finalists each received a $1,000 scholarship.

Regional Finalists in the individual category were:

  • Akshaya Annapragada, Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health
    Professions, Houston, Texas
  • Beverly Ge, F.W. Buchholz High School, Gainesville, Fla.
  • Shreya Patel, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics,
    Durham, N.C.
  • Michael You, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology,
    Alexandria, Va.

Team Regional Finalists were:

  • Kelly Cho, Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology,
    Alexandria, Va. and Harriet Khang, Thomas Jefferson School for Science
    and Technology, Alexandria, Va.
  • Chaeyeon Oh, Episcopal High School, Alexandria, Va. and Yujin Kim,
    Stony Brook School, Stony Brook, N.Y.
  • Vamsi Varanasi, Enloe High School, Raleigh, N.C. and Vinit Ranjan,
    North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Durham, N.C.

The Siemens Competition

Launched in 1998, the Siemens Competition is the nation’s premier
science research competition for high school students. Nearly 4,000
students registered for this year’s competition and a total of 3,162
projects were submitted for consideration. 466 students were named
Semifinalists and 97 were named Regional Finalists. The students present
their research in a closed, online forum, and entries are judged at the
regional level by esteemed scientists at six leading research
universities which host the regional competitions: Georgia Institute of
Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute
of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Notre Dame and
The University of Texas at Austin.

For news and announcements about the Regional Competitions and the
National Finals, follow us on Twitter @SFoundation
(#SiemensComp) and like us on Facebook at Siemens
. A live webcast of the National Finalist Awards
Presentation will also be available online at 11 a.m. EST on December 8

Interviews, video and photos available by visiting

The Siemens Foundation

The Siemens
has invested more than $90 million in the United
States to advance workforce development and education initiatives in
science, technology, engineering and math. The Foundation’s mission is
inspired by the culture of innovation, research and continuous learning
that is the hallmark of Siemens’ companies. Together, the programs at
the Siemens Foundation are helping close the opportunity gap for young
people in the U.S. when it comes to STEM careers, and igniting and
sustaining today’s STEM workforce and tomorrow’s scientists and
engineers. Follow the Siemens Foundation on Facebook
and Twitter.

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