Intel Science Talent Search 2011 Finalists


Bonnie Rae Lei

Bonnie Rae Lei California

Walnut High School

Bonnie Rae Lei, 18, of Walnut, combined DNA and anatomical analysis of sea slugs for her Intel Science Talent Search animal sciences project. Bonnie studied two different tropical sea slug species and found that they were genetically indistinct. She also found that a Bahamas population of these sea slugs was genetically distinct enough to be a separate species, and has proposed a new taxonomic name for it. Her analysis indicated that the populations diverged some five million years ago, when a sea channel closed, partially isolating the Bahamas area from the Atlantic Ocean. Her work may provide crucial insight into the biodiversity of this genus. At Walnut High School, Bonnie co-founded the Writers Guild and literary journal, for which she is editor-in-chief. She also founded a chapter of Namlo, an organization assisting people in developing countries, to sponsor a sister school in rural Nepal. She is also first in her class of 703. She has received a grant to study bats and endangered otters in Brazil and was one of two U.S. representatives at the first World Youth Climate Conference in Mexico. Her research has been published in two paleontology journals and online by the American Museum of Natural History. Bonnie, who has perfect SATs, is the daughter of John and Jenny Lei.


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