Student of Sri Lankan origin wins top honors at ISEF 2008
 
Natalie Saranga OmattageFrom among a sea of 1500 budding scientists and engineers representing 52 countries, 17 year old Natalie Saranga Omattage has been named one of top 3 winners at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2008. Along with Omattage, Sana Raoof of Muttontown, N.Y. and Yi-Han Su of Chinese Taipei received the top honors at the fair that concluded in Atlanta, Georgia on the 16th of May.  Started in 1950, ISEF is the world's biggest science and technology fair for pre-College participants.
 
A U.S. born daughter of Sri Lankan parents, Natalie Omattage is a high school senior at The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus, Mississippi.  Natalie's entry, a biosensor that detects harmful chemicals in food won her Intel Foundation's Young Scientist Award and a $50,000 college scholarship. Announcing her award, a press release by Intel Corporation states "Omattage developed a more efficient and less expensive way to screen for food additive contaminants, including those responsible for the recent deaths of many pets. By developing biosensors based on quartz crystal microbalance (QCM), Omattage’s research provides a new way for ports and warehouses to more thoroughly screen for food additives and other contaminants that could be found in food imported into the United States".
 
According to Intel, students competing in the fair are doing serious science as evidenced by more than 20 percent of the entrants in 2008 having applied for a patent for their work or intending to do so.
 
"To see young students from around the world develop innovative solutions to problems confronting society shows the true power of this international science fair," said Craig Barrett, the chairman of Intel Corporation, which has been a major sponsor of the fair since 1997. "Sana, Natalie and Yi-Han demonstrate that dedication to science inquiry can transcend gender and geographic boundaries and shows what we can accomplish when we focus on education and science."
 
In addition to Natalie Omattage, the following Sri Lankan students or students of Sri Lankan origin participated in ISEF 2008. 
  • Praveej Malinda Jayasinghe
  • Yasith Kanchana Lokuge
  • Sajeewa Dinesh Hendurugoda
  • Asanka Thimothy Nanayakkara
  • Ruvini Amanda Omattage
 
ISEF winners
Photo courtesy of Intel Corp.

Sana Raoof, left, 17, of Muttontown, N.Y., Yi-Han Su, 17, center, of Chinese Taipei and Natalie Saranga Omattage, right, 17, of Cleveland, Miss., pose after receiving top honors at the 2008 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Atlanta, Friday, May 16, 2008. The young women each received a $50,000 scholarship from the Intel Foundation as part of their award. The 2008 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair brought together more than 1500 students from 51 countries, regions and territories to compete for more than $4 million in awards and scholarships.

Natalie Omattage's presentation
 
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Intel Corp Press release 
Related Article from US Department of State
 
Last updated: Wednesday, May 28, 2008
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