A West Virginia University physics professors mentorship is paying off for a local high school student.

Assistant professor Maura McLaughlin supervised an award-winning research project by Dominic Ludovici, a senior at University High School in Morgantown. Ludovici recently won the Midwest Regional Finals of the 2006-2007 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology for his research on pulsars.

McLaughlin, along with her husband, WVU assistant professor Duncan Lorimer, were on an international research team that in 2003 discovered the first double pulsar system, aholy grailfor all of astrophysics.

Ludovicis project,A Search for Radio Pulsars Using the GMRT (Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope),used two different mathematical algorithms to scan data from the GMRT in Pune, India for pulsars. He discovered three. Pulsarsneutron stars that emit regular pulses of radio wavesare important because they can act as tools to accurately test many physics theories, including Einsteins Theory of Relativity.

For his work, Ludovici won the individual category and a $3,000 college scholarship in the Midwest Regional Finals held at the University of Notre Dame. The Siemens Foundation also awarded $2,000 to University High School.

This students work is absolutely professional,said Grant J. Matthews, physics professor at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Center for Astrophysics.The research reflects hours of data analysis and data extraction using complex, numeric algorithms. The discovery of pulsars is almost like finding a new planet and for this young scientist to have found three is truly remarkable.

As a Siemens Competition National Finalist, Ludovici rises from more than 1,600 entrants to join an elite group of six individuals and six teams competing at the Siemens National Finals at New York University this December for scholarships ranging from $10,000 to the top prize of $100,000.

The prestigious Siemens Competition, a signature program of the Siemens Foundation, is administered by the College Board.

The National Finals will take place from Dec.1-4, and a live webcast of the student presentations will be available at siemens-foundation.org on Dec. 3, from noon to 5 p.m.. A live webcast of the national winners press conference will also be available on Dec. 4 starting at 8:30 a.m.

Ludovici is listed inWhos Who Among American High School Studentsand plays the trombone. He is also a member of the National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, National Society of High School Scholars, Science Club, and Model United Nations.

For more information on the competition or the Siemens Foundation, visitwww.siemens-foundation.org