Gunn High School senior Andrew Liu today (Jan. 26) was named as one of 40 nationwide finalists in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search.
Liu will present his bioinformatics project -- which uses computer data analysis to improve understanding of human organ rejection -- to judges in Washington, D.C., next month for a crack at the top Siemens prize of $100,000.
Last month, Liu was honored for the same project, placing fifth out of six finalists in the Washington, D.C., nationals of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology.
"Applying computer science to biology, the study of disease, is very rewarding because it can have direct beneficial impact to society," Liu said in an earlier interview. Liu worked on the bioinformatics project with a mentor, Stanford University postdoctoral researcher Purvesh Khatri.
In addition to his computer-science research Liu, fluent in Mandarin and Spanish, is president of Gunn's speech and debate club and co-editor of The Chariot, the school's cultural and political magazine. He's also a two-time winner of the Intel Excellence in Computer Science award at the USA Math Olympiad.
Liu said the most influential person in his scientific pursuits has been his father, Yajun Liu.
"My dad inspired me to pursue science as a passion," he said in his Intel application. "My dad brings me technical guidance and emotional calm to help me appreciate that science needs persistence."
More than 1,700 high school seniors entered this year's Intel competition. The nation's 300 semi-finalists, named earlier this month, included three other students from Gunn: Youyang Gu, Audrey Ho, and Brian Zhang.
The Harker School in San Jose had a record-breaking seven semi-finalists and today became the only school in the nation to have more than one finalist: Rohan Mahajan and Nikhil Parthasarathy.
Last year, Palo Alto had one semi-finalist in the Intel contest -- Lynnelle Ye of Palo Alto High School.
Ye advanced to the Intel finals and ultimately placed fourth in the nation with her game-theory project, mathematically proving some new facts about strategies for the game Graph Chomp.