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ASMSA student makes Science Talent Search semifinals | People

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ASMSA student makes Science Talent Search semifinals
ASMSA student makes Science Talent Search semifinals

Robert Watkins, a senior at Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts, is the only Arkansas student to be selected as a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search.

The Intel® Science Talent Search, a program of Society for Science & the Public (SSP), is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science research competition for high school seniors. Since 1942, SSP has provided a national stage for the country's best and brightest young scientists to present original research to nationally recognized professional scientists.

Watkins’ project, “Form Follows Function: A Venomous Explanation for the Exceptional Allosaurus,” compares modern Komodo dragons of Indonesia that use venom to hunt with the Jurassic Allosaurus, a cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex, to determine how the Allosaurus was able to kill its giant dinosaur prey.

Watkins, who has been interested in dinosaurs since he was four years old, spent his summer break traveling to museums in Utah and Kansas to examine fossil skulls and corresponded with top researchers around the world in America, Europe and Australia.

“We are very proud of Bobby’s new achievement,” said Dr. Janice Sullivan, ASMSA dean of academic affairs. “Becoming a semifinalist for the Intel Science Talent Search is another example of Bobby’s creativity and commitment combined with the higher level of education ASMSA students are exposed to on a daily basis.”

As a semifinalist, Watkins will receive a $1,000 award from the Intel Foundation with an additional $1,000 award going to ASMSA. Watkins is the son of Keeylia Watkins of Garland City and the late Michael Watkins.

The 300 semifinalists were selected from 1,839 entrants in 28 states, the District of Columbia and one American high school overseas.

On Jan. 25, 40 of the semifinalists will be named as finalists and will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C., from March 8-13. The winners will be selected based on rigorous judging sessions and announced at a gala at the National Building Museum on March 13. The top award is $100,000 with the remaining top 10 receiving awards totaling $305,000.