OSSINING, N.Y. – Ossining High School’s Daniel McQuaid is one of 40 students nationwide to become a finanlist in this year's Intel Science Talent Search.
In the past 12 years, more than 40 students from Ossining High School have been named semifinalists in the prestigious competition. Each year, students and teachers at the school would patiently wait in the days after the semifinalist announcements to see if they would receive a call from an Intel representative that a student had been named a finalist. But Tuesday night the wait ended, as Daniel McQuaid picked up his cell phone and heard an Intel representative on the other end.
“I screamed really loudly as soon as I got off the phone,” McQuaid said Wednesday. “It was pretty unreal and at first I really couldn’t believe it. It means so much to me, but more than that it means so much to our school and the Science Research Program.”
The Intel Science Talent Search “encourages students to pursue ambitious scientific questions and develop skills to solve the problems of tomorrow,” according to Intel. McQuaid and the 39 other finalists are next set to compete from March 7 to 13 in Washington, D.C., for $630,000 in awards, with the top winner to receive $100,000 from the Intel Foundation.
“This year’s Intel Science Talent Search finalists are presenting a wide range of research, from optimizing algae oil for biofuel to developing a new treatment for blood cancer,” Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation, said in a press release. McQuaid’s project deals with treatment for lung cancer.
“It’s exciting for the future of innovation, because the U.S. needs these 40 high school seniors, and others like them, to question, explore and help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges,” Hawkins said.
The 40 finalists were narrowed down from 300 semifinalists chosen from more than 1,700 entrants. Three other students from Ossining High School – Sam Rude, Eitan David Rude and Caleb Hersh – and Briarcliff High School’s Mark Moretto were among the semifinalists announced this month. All four Ossining students are members of Ossining’s Fundamentals of Science Research Program, which is supervised by science research teachers Valerie Holmes and Angelo Piccirillo.
“This has been something we’ve been hoping for for many years,” Holmes said Wednesday. “Every year we would find out that we had semifinalists – one year we even had eight – and every year we would wait for the phone call and never get it. Danny sent me a text saying, ‘I got the call,’ and I sent him back one that said, ‘Don’t mess with me.’ Obviously we’re really excited for him.”
Intel has long recognized Ossining High School as one of the top schools in the country for science, and in 2012 gave the school its Star Innovator Award as the top science high school in America.
Holmes and Piccirillo are set to help coach McQuaid for when he gives his poster presentation in Washington in March.
“I think one thing that makes Dan stand out is that he’s a scientist and he knows his research inside and out,” Piccirillo said. “You know you’re speaking to someone who has a big future in this field. He’s a true brilliant scientist.”