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SSMV students semifinalists in national Siemens Competition

Oct. 30, 2014, 8:20 AM

School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt student Zaixing “Able” Shi, here with his mentor Rebecca Cook, Ph.D., is a semifinalist in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology for U.S. high school students. (photo by Daniel Dubois)

Two seniors in the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt (SSMV) are semifinalists in the 2014 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology for U.S. high school students, and one of them, Zaixing “Able” Shi, is Tennessee’s only regional finalist.

“This is an outstanding accomplishment for Able,” said Rebecca Cook, Ph.D., assistant professor of Cancer Biology at Vanderbilt, who mentored Shi’s project. “I am so pleased that Able is being recognized for his talent and perseverance, and feel honored to have guided Able’s progress towards his truly impactful scientific discoveries.”

SSMV is a joint venture between Vanderbilt University and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Students receive accelerated science instruction and research experience at Vanderbilt while attending their regular high schools.

Both Shi and the other semifinalist, Camron Shirkhodaie, attend Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School in Nashville. Shirkhodaie’s research project was mentored by Louise Rollins-Smith, Ph.D., associate professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology.

Shi will participate in a regional competition next month. The winners will vie for top scholarship prizes in the national competition in Washington, D.C., in December.

A team of two SSMV students were regional finalists in 2011 but Shi is the first to reach that stage with an individual project, said Angela Eeds, Ph.D., SSMV director.

Established in 2007, SSMV is a program of the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach within the Vanderbilt Peabody College Department of Teaching and Learning. The center was founded and is directed by Virginia Shepherd, Ph.D., professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology.

This is the seventh year that SSMV seniors have been recognized for their research in the Siemens (formerly Westinghouse) competition. This year nearly 4,500 high school students across the country submitted research projects into competition.

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