Vishnu Shankar is captain of the varsity debate team. Natalie Ng is on the school golf team. But they're best known around Monta Vista High School as budding scientists. Both are vying for a $100,000 top price in the Intel Science Talent Search.
Vishnu is trying to identify ways to tailor medicine to work better with cells.
"There's these really important mediators inside our cells, and in order for us to understand how to build these medications, my project is able to give us some more guidance and intelligence into the area," he explained.
Natalie's project focuses on breast cancer and pinpointing why cancer spreads in some people, but not others.
"What I'm really interested in is genomics and getting to understand what it is in our DNA and in our genes that impact disease and how diseases progress through our genetic makeup, so I want to investigate that more," she said.
Vishnu believes his debate skills will help him in science to argue why his project is award-winning.
"In science, too, one of the more important, one of the most important parts is the ability to communicate your ideas because it's not sufficient that you just have the ideas," he said. "You also need to communicate it, and you need to let an audience know of the scope of your ideas."
Both students have perfect grade point averages and take advanced placement courses. However, Principal Alice Scott says they're well-rounded.
"How they find the time to manage it and both be positive with smiles on their faces and to have a circle of friends around them is remarkable," Scott said.
Bay Area Intel Science Talent Search 2014 Finalists
Vishnu Shankar, Monta Vista High School, Cupertino CA
Natalie Ng, Monta Vista High School, Cupertino CA
Charles Liu, Gunn High School, Palo Alto CA
Kathy Camenzind, California High School, San Ramon CA
Emily Pang, Dougherty Valley High School, San Ramon CA
Esha Maiti, California High School, San Ramon CA
Angela Kong, Lynbrook High School, San Jose CA
Sreyas Misra, The Harker School, San Jose CA (not pictured)