ETHS student named semifinalist in national science competition


Evanston Township High School senior Zane Kashner was named a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search 2016. Semifinalists were selected from 1,750 entrants from 512 high schools in 43 states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and six American and international high schools overseas. As a semifinalist, Kashner is among the top 300 science research students in the country, and one of only five from Illinois.

The Intel Science Talent Search, a program of Society for Science & the Public, awards each semifinalist a $1,000 award from the Intel Foundation with an additional $1,000 going to his or her school to contribute towards science research. Finalists will be named later in January 2016 to compete for additional awards.

According to ETHS science teacher Mark Vondracek, Kashner is the 13th semifinalist from ETHS since 2000. “The STS is known as the Nobel Prize for high school, since eight finalists since the 1940s have gone on to win the actual Nobel Prize,” Vondracek remarked.

Kashner’s paper, entitled “Albedo and Heat Recirculation of Hot Jupiter Exoplanets: Effect of Phase Shifts,” explains his development of a new analysis technique for atmospheric and climatic patterns on newly discovered planets that are in other solar systems, and are about the same size of Jupiter and in close orbits to their respective stars. He worked with Northwestern University graduate student Joel Schwartz to start on the databases last year and begin the analysis.

Three other ETHS seniors also submitted papers to the Intel program: Matteo Di Bernardo, Murielle Dunand and Sam Weidner. “This is a major accomplishment since only a small fraction of seniors around the country do this level of work, meaning original research,” Vondracek added.

For a complete list of Intel semifinalists, visit