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Cullen Blake's Student Wins Siemens Prize

December 6, 2010

Benjamin Clark, 15, a senior at Penn Manor High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, won first place in the prestigious Siemens Competition for a project entitled "The Close Binary Fraction: A Bayesian Analysis of SDSS M  Dwarf Spectra". Clark  worked under the supervision of Cullen Blake, an NSF/Cotsen postdoctoral fellow in the department, and did much of his work during the summer of 2010 in Princeton. Using individual spectra of approximately 40,000 low-mass M dwarf stars observed  by the  Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), Clark  used  sophisticated statistical and numerical simulations to demonstrate that close binary stars make up 3% of the M dwarf star population. His work is a step towards a more thorough understanding of how stars and planets form. Ben is the recipient of a $100,000 grand prize for his work from the Siemens Foundation. The award was announced on December 6, 2010 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.