Prize Recipient

Natalia Toro


Background:

Natalia Toro, 14, of Boulder, studied neutrino oscillations for her Intel Science Talent Search physics project-work that may help explain mysterious shortages in neutrino counts and have a fundamental impact on high-energy physics. Neutrinos are the most elusive of subatomic particles, rarely interacting with matter. Recent studies published by researchers in Japan suggest that neutrinos change their "flavor"-or oscillate-from a flavor that a neutrino detector can see to one that it cannot, and vice versa. Natalia used equations she derived using the time-dependent Schroedinger equation to predict theoretical neutrino counts. Comparing these with the actual data from Japan, she concluded that her results strongly favor the neutrino oscillation hypothesis. A senior at Fairview High School, Natalia took her first college-level mathematics course in the sixth grade and is the youngest of this year's finalists. A member of the 1998 United States Physics Team, she enjoys tennis and swimming and tutoring middle school students. The daughter of Dr. Gabriel and Beatriz Toro, Natalia is fluent in Spanish. She hopes to attend MIT to earn a doctorate in physics.