UNT TAMS student wins $100,000 science scholarship

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- A student at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at the University of North Texas won a $100,000 scholarship for his groundbreaking research on cancer treatments.

Sahil Khetpal, 17, of Plano, was one of 10 students nationwide and the only Texas student to win the Proton Energy Scholarship at the recent NHA Hydrogen Conference and Expo in California.

Sponsored by global hydrogen leader Proton Energy Systems, which is owned by entrepreneur Tom Sullivan and administered by the Hydrogen Education Foundation, the Proton Energy Scholarship recognizes and awards high school seniors who demonstrate outstanding achievement, excellence and promise in the fields of science or technology, and who plan to pursue higher education in these areas.

Sullivan initially planned to award only the top winner the $100,000 prize but instead gave each student the scholarship, saying all 10 students show tremendous promise in the fields of science and technology.

For his research, Khetpal designed and synthesized a novel carbon nanotube-based drug delivery system for tumor-targeted chemotherapy and thermal ablation of cancer cells. Carbon nanotubes, or hollow cylinders of carbon atoms, have immense potential in the combat against cancer. Because the system is designed to specifically target cancer cells, it would lower the severe side effects of conventional chemotherapy.

In addition, Khetpal investigated the use of a special carbon nanotube as a means to detect cancer at an earlier stage. Khetpal worked with Dr. Iwao Ojima at Stony Brook University in New York.

Khetpal's research also earned him recognition as a finalist for the Siemens Competition, the nation's leading original research competition in math, science and technology.

Before coming to TAMS, he attended Jasper High School in Plano. In the fall, Khetpal plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania and major in finance and chemical engineering.

About TAMS

TAMS is a two-year residential program at UNT that allows exceptionally talented students to complete their freshman and sophomore years of college while receiving the equivalent of high school diplomas. Students enroll in the academy following their sophomore year in high school, live in a UNT residence hall and attend UNT classes with college students. After two years, they enroll at UNT or another university to finish their bachelor's degrees.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108