Palo Alto High School senior Lynnelle Ye has placed fourth in the Intel Science Talent Search, one of America's oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competitions.
Ye garnered a $40,000 Intel Foundation prize for her project that provides strategies for winning at a computer game called "Graph Chomp."
The winners were announced Tuesday in Washington D.C. by Intel Corp. and Society for Science & the Public.
The 40 finalists in the Intel competition had gathered there to mingle, make presentations and display their projects at the National Academy of Sciences.
For the first time in the 68-year history of the competition, four of the finalists -- one tenth of the group -- were from the Bay Area.
Taking first place this year was Erika DeBenedictis of Albuquerque, N.M., who won $100,000 for her project developing a software navigation system to help improve spacecraft travel through the solar system.
Her research found that the gravity and movement of planets create "easy transit routes," which ultimately will help spacecraft move faster and with less fuel.
Second place, and $75,000, went to David Liu of Saratoga for his work to develop a system to recognize and understand digital images. His work already has been used to examine aerial images to identify hazards to buried oil pipelines and could be used to enable unmanned aerial vehicles and Web-based image searches.
Third place, and $50,000, went to Akhil Mathew of Madison, N.J., for a math project on Deligne categories, a setting for studying a wide range of algebraic structures with ties to theoretical physics.
"These 40 Intel Science Talent Search finalists demonstrate that we have the capability in this country to cultivate the next generation of innovators, scientists and entrepreneurs," said Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini.
"These young scientists are proof that curious, eager minds coupled with inspiring, knowledgeable teachers are the foundation for world-changing innovation."