SCHOOL SCENE: Electrons and phonons win prize for Blair student

PHOTO: Michael Winer. Image: Chris Ayers Photography/Society for Science & the Public.


Michael “Mike Winston” Winer, a senior at Blair High School, was recently named a first prize recipient of the Intel Science Talent Search competition.

The win will add to Blair’s track record of over 30 finalists. Over the past several decades, the Blair Magnet Foundation has maintained an extracurricular initiative to encourage its students to participate in the competition.

His project, entitled “Interactions of Electrons and Phonons in a Crystal,” was awarded the first place medal for innovation. The other two categories of the first place prizes included basic research, which went to Noah Golowich from Massachusetts, and global good, which went to Andrew Jin from California.

“I created a theory that explained how electrons interact with phonons, the particles of sound (they are a real thing. It is tragically ironic that nobody ever hears about them). My work showed that electrons could emit and absorb them, and gave the probabilities,” explained Winer, describing his project.

According to the Society for Science, this examination of the interaction could be further applied to structures like superconductors.

Winer first became involved with the research a bit out of chance. “My supervisor, Victor Galitski, of UMD, wanted me to study the topological properties of electrons sound interactions. Unfortunately I didn’t know what that meant so I did this instead,” Winer said.

While the first place award came with $150,000, perhaps Intel’s events were equally as valuable. Winer described it as one of the best experiences of his life, “I met so many incredible people, from my fellow finalists to accomplished scientists to the president.” Yizhen Zhang, a senior at Richard Montgomery High School, was also able to attend the trip to D.C. as one of 40 finalists.

Many Intel winners show great promise to become future scientists and engineers. Winer, for instance, already has an impressive list of credentials that reflects his aptitude in the sciences. Outside of Intel, he was a U.S. Physics team member and medalist, as well as a USA Math Olympiad qualifier. In regards to future plans, he wants to continue studying theoretical physics in college and later in his career.

When asked for advice for other students, Winer stressed pursuing one’s interests and passions. “Find something you love doing, and doing. Especially if that thing is physics.”

Article by the MoCo Student Community Editor Emily Zhang of Richard Montgomery High School


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