Penn Manor Senior Wins National Science Prize

Ben Clark is now $100,000 richer in scholarship awards after winning a national prize over the weekend for his work in the field of astrophysics.

Clark, a Penn Manor senior, won for his project The Close Binary Fraction: A Bayesian Analysis of SDSS M Dwarf Spectra, in a national competition held by the Siemens Foundation, which encourages research and development in science, math and technology.

“This incredible young scientists has quantified the fraction of low mass stars with close companions, a major piece of work and a significant step in our understanding of star formation,” said competition judge Marla Geha, an Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Physics, Yale University in an interview with PR Newswire.

The national Siemens Competition was held in Washington D.C. Dec. 2 to 6.   It is a competition for some of America’s top young scientists and is aimed at inspiring innovation.

“Determining the fractions of stars that, unlike our own Sun, have a companion star is important to understanding how stars form,” said Geha about Clark’s winning entry. (This work) has implications for the number of planetary systems in the Milky Way.”

Ben Clark studied star formation with the help of a astrophysics mentor from Princeton. Photo by Liz Lawrence

Clark started off in his region with 1300 other competitors. Half of the competitors took part in the competition individually, while the other half worked in teams. Clark was an individual competitor. He beat the competition in the regional event, eventually claiming first place overall.

Clark, has a astrophysics mentor from Princeton University.  He described his project before the regional competition.

“I was looking for binary stars and I used a very large, low-quality data set, but through my analysis I was able to get useful results,” said Clark about the data he used in his research.

“These students inspire us all with their passion and commitment to serious scientific research,” said Thomas McCausland, Chairman of the Siemens Foundation, in a press release. “As America focuses on reinvigorating math and science education, they remind us of what is possible when young people are challenged to do science at the highest level.”

To see more of Ben Clark at the competition, go to this website:

By Brian Dunne

3 thoughts on “Penn Manor Senior Wins National Science Prize”

  1. I remember Ben from Central Manor Elementary School when he was the very young and awesomely sharp fellow accelerating past my son who himself was doing accelerated math work with Mrs. Linda Deal.

    Looks like Ben is STILL accelerating, and we have no idea how far he will go, but I would not be surprised to learn someday that he’s won another prize, maybe this time, say, one of those he’d have to go to Sweden to get, for figuring out, oh, a Grand Unified Theory or something like that!

    Earlier this year we had the National Champion Rocket Team, and now we have Mr. Clark making a solid contribution to the science of understanding how stellar systems form. Bravo to you, Ben, for bringing yet another National Championship to the hallowed halls of Penn Manor!

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