Science Talent Search: Nobel-winning alumni

Published 6:23 AM ET, Thu January 25, 2018
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The Science Talent Search is not your average science fair. Conducted by the Society for Science and the Public since 1942, its US-wide search for the brightest students has seen 13 future Nobel Laureates pass through the competition. Scroll through the gallery to discover more about them. courtesy The Society for Science and the Public
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1972, Leon Cooper took part in the Science Talent Search in 1947 and was a finalist for his project on penicillin-resistant bacteria. He received the highest award in physics for jointly developing the theory of superconductivity, when some metals, when cooled, exhibit zero electrical resistance. Bettmann/Bettmann/Bettmann Archive
Competing in the 1946 iteration of the competition, Edelman shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Rodney Porter. Both had independently researched the chemical make-up of antibodies, establishing their Y-shaped structure (pictured). Bettmann/Bettmann/Bettmann Archive
Mottelson's relationship with the Science Talent Search dates back further than any other Nobel-winning alumni, becoming a finalist in 1944. Born in Illinois, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1975 for developing "the theory of the structure of the atomic nucleus," based on the connection between collective and particle motion of atomic nuclei. courtesy The Society for Science and the Public
Recipient of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics, Glashow was a finalist in the 1950 Science Talent Search. The New York-native won his Nobel for his contribution to "the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles." Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
A finalist in the 1949 Science Talent Search, the Washington-native won the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "the determination of base sequences in nucleic acid," furthering our knowledge of DNA and gene sequencing. Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hoffmann competed in the 1955 Search and was a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1981. He made the top ten in the student competition, but was awarded top honors by the Nobel committee for his work theorizing chemical reactions -- particularly the orbit of electrons. Leopoldo Smith/CON/LatinContent Editorial/LatinContent/Getty Images
Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004 took fourth place in the 1967 Science Talent Search. While at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he won as part of a team of three "for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction" -- a theory that when quarks, a subatomic particle, come close to one another, they act like free particles. RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
2005 Nobel Prize in Physics recipient (left) participated in 1952. He was one of four people in 2005 awarded a Nobel Prize for developing laser-based precision spectroscopy, including "the optical comb technique" -- a way to measure frequencies with high precision. JONAS EKSTROMER/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner kick started his career by winning the 1968 Science Talent Search for his project on metal atoms in complex molecules. The Nobel was awarded "for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP," which produces a shimmering light. Tsien has returned to STS alumni events, recalling how he loved conducting chemistry experiments in his home as a young child. J. Kat Woronowicz/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Roth also competed in the 1968 Search, going on to win the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics "for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design." His work "demonstrated that stability was critical to successful matching methods," creating systems "matching doctors with hospitals, school children with schools, and organ donors with patients." PAU BARRENA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
"Top Boy" in the 1947 talent search, Karplus was awarded his Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2013 ""for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems." Karplus' winning project from 1947 focused on the life of alcids, web-footed diving birds, based on trips to New England during winter. PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Modrich arrives with Sweden's Princess Madeleine at the Nobel Banquet in 2015. The STS 1964 alumni won his Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for mechanistic studies of DNA repair," shedding light on the causes of cancer and how we age. SOREN ANDERSSON/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Thorne took part in the 1958 iteration of the student competition, going on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017 for his work in the observation of gravitational waves. His knowledge of space saw him serve as scientific consultant and executive producer of Christopher Nolan's 2014 blockbuster "Interstellar." Kevin Winter/Getty Images North America/Getty Images