Melissa Yan ’10 Named Siemens Competition Regional Finalist

Move over Al Gore. Melissa Yan ’10 has something to say about global warming. On October 24, the Siemens Math, Science and Technology Competition selected Yan as a Regional Finalist because of her summer research project, “Impact of Climate Change on Energy Demand in the Midwest Region.” Yan, an Associate News Editor for The Phillipian, worked with Frank Zhang, a student at Naperville Central High School in her hometown in Illinois. The two gave a 12- minute oral presentation and responded to questions from the judges. Using mathematical models developed from state data, they predicted that energy use would increase by as much as 16 percent in the summer months in the Midwest because of global warming. “Global warming in general is such a huge issue in our nation, plus energy dependency on foreign nations — all these things make this a big issue,” Yan said. “It’s a really practical topic to study.” Out of the 1,893 students who entered the competition, 311 were named Semifinalists and 96 were named Regional Finalists. Yan though, was not overjoyed upon hearing the news because she was worried about missing the Andover/Exeter varsity volleyball game to make her presentation. As her team was defeating Exeter on November 8, Yan was presenting the results of her project before a panel of judges from Notre Dame University. Yan said that global warming is dangerous because as greenhouse gas emissions increase, environmental temperatures and energy use increase as well. Yan added that their models show a high correlation between energy use and temperature increase and said that she and Zhang recommended that people create strategies to adapt. They also found that global warming in southern states is considerably greater than that in northern states. Yan and Zhang had internships over the summer at the Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois, where they worked on the project. An environmental scientist and a statistician who work at the lab mentored the two. Yan said, “I’ve always been interested in applied science. I really liked doing hands-on things as a kid.” Yan said she and Zhang would have written a paper on their findings regardless but decided to enter the competition after hearing about it from other people. Regional Finalists’ high schools receive a $2,000 award to fund science, mathematics and technology initiatives. Each Regional Finalist is also awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Yan is considering continuing her research by creating models for other regions of the United States. Patrick Farrell, Instructor in Math, taught Yan as a Lower in AP BC Calculus. “She was a wonderful student, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that she is a finalist,” Farrell said. “[She has] very good mathematical insights, [and is a] very hard worker, the kind of student that makes it a joy to teach at PA… I knew that she had all the capabilities to do something like this.” Rajesh Mundra, Instructor in Biology, taught Yan as a Lower in Advanced Biology during the Fall and Winter Terms. Mundra said, “It was impressive for a tenth grader to be taking Bio 540 and doing as well as she did… I’m thrilled that she’s pursuing something that she really enjoys and she’s doing great at it.”