Astronomer Raja Guhathakurta mentors Intel science contest finalist

High school students Andrew Zhou, Namrata Anand, and Kevin Zhang (left to right) were mentored by UCSC astronomer Raja Guhathakurta (far right) in the Intel Science Talent Search. Anand is a finalist, Zhou and Zhang semifinalists. Photo courtesy of the Harker School.

A student at the Harker School in San Jose has been named a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search for her project on the Andromeda galaxy carried out under the guidance of UCSC astronomer Puragra (Raja) Guhathakurta.

High school senior Namrata Anand received $7,500 and will travel to Washington, D.C., in March to compete for the $100,000 grand prize with 40 other finalists from across the country. She analyzed the chemical composition of stars in the Andromeda galaxy to find clues to the formation and evolutionary history of the galaxy.

Anand was one of three Harker students who were named semifinalists in the competition for projects mentored by Guhathakurta, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics. The other two students were Andrew Zhou, who studied the different star types in Andromeda and isolated them from foreground and background contaminants, and Kevin Zhang, who looked at the similarities between Andromeda's stars and those found in other galaxies.

Guhathakurta, a leading expert on the Andromeda galaxy, said he was very proud of all three students.

"It was a real pleasure to mentor Namrata, Andrew, and Kevin. They are wonderful role models for other high school students contemplating careers in the physical sciences," he said.