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Juli Coraor Makes Huntington History

Senior Juliana Coraor has made history. She's Huntington High School's first Intel Science Talent Search finalist since 1950. The teenager is one of 40 finalists from 16 states who will gather in Washington, DC in March and vie for $630,000 in awards with the winner receiving a $100,000 scholarship.

"I was utterly surprised when Intel called me to inform me that I was a finalist," Ms. Coraor said. "I had doubted that I was even going to be semi-finalist. What I am most excited about is the fact that I will have the chance to meet the other 39 finalists and discuss their research with them. My whole school is absolutely ecstatic about all of this."

"I can hardly find words to explain how I am feeling," said Lori Kenny, Huntington's science research program coordinator who has worked closely with Ms. Coraor through the years. "I am so excited that Juli will have the opportunity to talk to top scientists about her work. I love learning and seeing that same intrinsic drive in her makes me ecstatic."

The top winners in the competition will be announced during a black-tie gala awards ceremony at the National Building Museum on March 13. Ms. Coraor has not yet finalized her college plans, but she is weighing Stony Brook University, Northwestern, the University of Chicago, Princeton and Cornell.

Project Impressed Intel's Judges

Ms. Coraor's research project is titled, "The Impact of Compressive Misfit Strain on Improper Ferroelectricity in Lead Titanate/Strontium Titanate Superlattices." It has clearly impressed Intel's panel of distinguished judges. Ferroelectrics are materials that carry special electrical properties. The research was conducted from late June to early September in a lab at Stony Brook University under the guidance of Professor Matthew Dawber.

Ms. Coraor's feat marks the first time in 62 years that Huntington High School has an Intel finalist. Class of 1950 valedictorian Nicholas George Markoff was one of 10 finalists in what was then known as the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. There have been only a small handful of Huntington semi-finalists since then.

"Understanding the sheer magnitude of this accomplishment, I am thrilled for Juli and her family, for Lori Kenny and the high school research program, and for the entire school district community," Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. "The intellect, passion and interpersonal skills that have guided Juli to this point in the competition surely place her in a position to go all the way!"

In Rarefied Group

Ms. Coraor's status as a 2012 national finalist puts her in a rarefied group of teenage scholars. "Her opportunities for the future are boundless," Mrs. Kenny said. "I love that the students in the research program can have such a great peer mentor and see that anything is possible if you put in the time and effort to the things you love. The entire class loves her and sends their support as she marches on representing Huntington in the finals."

"Tackling real-world challenges from cancer to Internet security to alternative energy solutions, this year's finalists are a true inspiration," said Elizabeth Marincola, president of the Society for Science & the Public, which coordinates the competition. "We join with Intel in congratulating them on this tremendous honor, and commend the mentors, teachers, schools, parents and communities that have contributed to their success."

The 40 Intel finalists, including Ms. Coraor, will meet in Washington, DC from March 8-13 to vie in the final round of what is regarded as the most prestigious pre-college science competition in the country. The finalists will be judged "on both their original scientific research and on their achievement and leadership, inside and outside the classroom," according to contest organizers.

U.S. Needs Talented Innovators

"The U.S. needs these talented innovators to go as far and as fast as they can, solving the world's most critical challenges, imagining and creating a new and better future for us all," said Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation. "Math and science are the language and tools of this innovation. That's why Intel is so proud to invest in these students, and to advance math and science education for all students."

Westinghouse/Intel Science Talent Search alumni have gone on to win seven Nobel Prizes, two Fields Medals, three National Medals of Science, 11 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and even an Academy Award for Best Actress. Yes, that's not a misprint. Natalie Hershlag, now better known now as Natalie Portman, a 1999 Syosset High School graduate, reached the Intel semi-finals for her project titled, "A Simple Method to Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar." She went on to earn a BA in psychology at Harvard in 2003 and the 2011 Academy Award for her performance in Black Swan.

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