Nanotube synthesis project qualifies 12th-grader for nationals
For the second year in a row, a Missouri City high school student who studies carbon nanotubes at Rice has won the grand prize in the physical science division at the Science Engineering Fair of Houston.
Neerja Aggarwal, a 12th-grader at Hightower High School, repeated March 1-3 as both the grand-prize winner in the senior physical science division and the first-prize winner in the chemistry division for her project, “Carbon Nanotube Synthesis and Characterization Phase II.” The wins qualify Aggarwal for the 2012 ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair in San Antonio next week and for the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh in May.
Aggarwal has interned for two years in the laboratory of Andrew Barron, Rice’s Charles W. Duncan Jr.-Welch Professor of Chemistry and professor of materials science. She said her science fair win wouldn’t have been possible without her experience in the Barron lab or research mentor, graduate student Alvin Orbaek.
“I learned everything from tackling literature reviews, lab procedures, instrument operation, data analysis and, especially, technical writing,” she said. “This was an absolutely invaluable opportunity.”
Aggarwal plans to pursue medical school or a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, and she may try for both.
“I haven’t decided where I’ll go to college yet, but I’m definitely considering Rice,” she said.