Local high school seniors receive Teller science scholarships

June 8, 2011

Local high school seniors receive Teller science scholarships

Linda A Lucchetti, lucchetti1@llnl.gov, 925-422-5815
Four local high school seniors from Livermore and Tracy have been awarded the Laboratory's prestigious Edward Teller Science Scholarship. The awards, instituted in 2004 in honor of the late Dr. Teller, renowned physicist and Lab co-founder, are given annually by the Laboratory to graduating seniors who excel in science studies.

This year's award winners from the Livermore Valley Unified School District are Rachelle Hamblin from Livermore High School and Nicole Allen from Granada High School. The Tracy Unified School District winners are Salman Kahn of West High School and Niraj Punjya of Tracy High School. Each receives a scholarship of $1,000 toward a college education.

Hamblin has received many awards, including the Sandia National Laboratory award in science. She explored the science and engineering fields through GetSET (Get Science, Engineering and Technology) and job shadowing. She was chosen for the Perry Outreach Program that encourages young women to pursue careers in underrepresented science fields. Hamblin is a founding member of the math club at Livermore High. She is involved with tutoring math students through the club. She also is an outstanding athlete and spends much time playing soccer and perfecting her athletic skills. She plans to attend UC Davis to prepare for a career as a sports orthopedic surgeon.

Allen has taken a variety of science classes including two years of biotechnology, marine biology and advanced biology. She will study biotechnology at University of California, Santa Barbara this fall, where she plans to pursue a double-major in biochemistry and molecular biology, with a minor in statistical science. She obtained an internship studying mouse stem cell lines at Santa Clara University during the summer of her junior year, and continued her work into her senior year completing her project. She won 'best in show' at the Livermore Science Odyssey competition, and placed first at the Tri-Valley Science and Engineering Fair. She also was a semi finalist at the Bay Area BioGENEius Challenge receiving an honorable mention.

Punjya has taken 11 science courses during his four years in high school. He also took a Regional Occupational Program biotechnology course the hour before school began for three of his four years of high school. Beginning in his sophomore year, he attended summer research experiences at UC Santa Barbara where he studied small crustaceans. Last summer, he participated in Stanford's Medical Summer Research Program where he conducted stem cell work in a cardiology laboratory. He placed second in the Sacramento Area Regional Science Fair as a junior, and was a Western Regional semi-finalist at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium at UC Davis his senior year.

Kahn is an honors graduate from the Space & Engineering Academy at Merrill F. West High School. He has been the president of the academy's student body for two years, and an officer all four years. He has been chosen by his teachers as an academy student of the year each year. Kahn founded West High's competitive Robotics Club two years ago, and has led the club to the VEX robotics world championships all three years of its existence. He has led rocketry and robotics activities at numerous elementary school science nights throughout Tracy. He also helped teach a summer robotics class for elementary students. He has participated in the Junior International Summer School for Young Physicists. Kahn will attend UC Berkeley, where he will pursue a double major in astrophysics and mechanical engineering. He is already working on starting up a competitive robotics team at Berkeley.

The awards were presented to the students at the high schools' awards ceremonies.