Intel ISEF Categories and Subcategories

The categories listed below are those used at the Intel ISEF. Local, regional, state and country fairs may or may not choose to use these new categories, dependent on the needs of their area. Please check with your affiliated fair(s) for the appropriate category listings at that level of competition.

Use the list of category links below to go directly to the one you are interested in or browse through the entire list of available categories.

Category Selection Advisement:

Many projects could easily fit into more than one Intel ISEF category. It is your decision to choose the category that most accurately describes your project.

You don’t need to compete in the same category as in your regional or state competition. Furthermore, most regional and state competitions do not use sub-categories. We attempt to match judges to projects first at the sub-category level and then at the category level as best as possible, so the selection of a sub-category should also be given consideration. “Other” as a sub-category most often will match the project with a wide range of judges across the category.

Ask yourself the following questions to help in the selection of a category:

  1. Who will be the most qualified to judge my project? What area of expertise is the most important for the judge to have? (For example, a medical background or an engineering background?)
  2. What is the emphasis of my project? What characteristic of my project is the most innovative, unique or important? (For example, is it the application in medicine or the engineering of the machine? Is it inserting the proper gene or the method of computer mapping to demonstrate the results?)

Animal Sciences (AS)
Behavioral and Social Sciences (BE)
Biochemistry (BI)
Cellular and Molecular Biology (CB)
Chemistry (CH)
Computer Science (CS)
Earth and Planetary Science (EA)
Engineering: Electrical and Mechanical (EE)
Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering (EN)
Energy and Transportation (ET)
Environmental Management (EM)
Environmental Sciences (EV)
Mathematical Sciences (MA)
Medicine and Health Sciences (ME)
Microbiology (MI)
Physics and Astronomy (PH)
Plant Sciences (PS)


Study of animals and animal life, including their structure, function, life history, interactions, classification, and evolution.


Animal Behavior
Nutrition and growth
Systematics and evolution

BEH Animal Behavior - The study of animal activities, on the level of the intact organism or its neurological components. This includes rhythmic functions, learning, and intelligence, sensory preferences, and environmental effects on behaviors.

DEV Development- The study of an organism from earliest stages through birth or hatching and into later life. This includes cellular and molecular aspects of development, regeneration, and environmental effects on development.

ECO Ecology - The science of the interactions and relationships among animals and animals and plants with their environments.

GENE Genetics - The study of organismic and population genetics.

NUTR Nutrition and Growth - The study of natural and artificial nutrients on animal growth and reproduction. This also includes the effects of biological and chemical control agents on reproduction and populations.

PATH Pathology - The study of disease states, and their causes, processes, and consequences. This includes effects of parasites or disease-causing microbes.

PHY Physiology - The study of functions in systems of animals, their mechanisms, and how they are affected by environmental factors or natural variations. 
ces that select for particular genes.

SYST Systematics and Evolution - The study of classification of organisms and their evolutionary relationships. This includes morphological, biochemical, genetic, and modeled systems.

OTHR Other - Studies that cannot be assigned to one of the above categories.

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The science or study of the thought processes and behavior of humans and other animals in their interactions with the environment studied through observational and experimental methods.


Clinical & Developmental Psychology
Cognitive Psychology
Physiological Psychology

CLIN Clinical and Developmental Psychology - The study and treatment of emotional or behavioral disorders. Developmental psychology is concerned with the study of progressive behavioral changes in an individual from birth until death.

COG Cognitive, Brain and Cognition, Neuro-psychology - The study of cognition, the mental processes that underlie behavior, including thinking, deciding, reasoning, and to some extent motivation and emotion. Neuro-psychology studies the relationship between the nervous system, especially the brain, and cerebral or mental functions such as language, memory, and perception.

PHY Physiological Psychology - The study of the biological and physiological basis of behavior.

SOC Sociology and Social Psychology; Industrial/Organizational Psychology - The study of human social behavior, especially the study of the origins, organization, institutions, and development of human society. Sociology is concerned with all group activities-economic, social, political, and religious.

OTHR Other

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The study of chemical substances, interactions, and processes relevant to living organisms.


Analytical Biochemistry
General Biochemistry
Medicinal Biochemistry
Structural Biochemistry

ANAL Analytical Biochemistry - The study of the separation, identification, and quantification of chemical components relevant to living organisms.

GEN General Biochemistry - The study of chemical processes, including interactions and reactions, relevant to living organisms.

MED Medicinal Biochemistry - The study of biochemical processes within the human body, with special reference to health and disease. 

STRU Structural Biochemistry - The study of the structure and or function of biological molecules.

OTHROther - Studies that cannot be assigned to one of the above categories. 

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The study of the structure and formation of cells.


Cellular Biology
Cellular and Molecular Genetics
Molecular Biology

CELL Cellular Biology - The study of the organization and functioning of the individual cell.

GENE Genetics - The study of molecular genetics focusing on the structure and function of genes at a molecular level.

IMM Immunology - The study of the structure and function of the immune system, innate and acquired immunity, and laboratory techniques involving the interaction of antigens with antibodies.

MOLE Molecular Biology - The study of biology at the molecular level. Chiefly concerns itself with understanding the interactions between the various systems of a cell, including the interrelationships of DNA, RNA and protein synthesis and learning how these interactions are regulated.

OTHR Other

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The science of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter.


Analytical Chemistry
Environmental Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry
Materials Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
Physical Chemistry

ANAL Analytical Chemistry - The study of the separation, identification, and quantification of the chemical components of materials

ENV Environmental Chemistry - The study of chemical species in the natural environment, including the effects of human activities, such as the design of products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances.

INOR Inorganic Chemistry - The study of the properties and reactions of inorganic and organometallic compounds. 

MAT Materials Chemistry - The study of the design, synthesis and properties of substances, including condensed phases (solids, liquids, polymers) and interfaces, with a useful or potentially useful function, such as catalysis or solar energy. 

ORGA Organic Chemistry - The study of carbon-containing compounds, including hydrocarbons and their derivatives. 

PHY Physical Chemistry - The study of the fundamental physical basis of chemical systems and processes, including chemical kinetics, chemical thermodynamics, electrochemistry, photochemistry, spectroscopy, statistical mechanics and astro-chemistry.

OTHR Other - Studies that cannot be assigned to one of the above subcategories, such as nuclear chemistry, surface chemistry and theoretical chemistry.

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The study of information processes, the structures and procedures that represent processes, and their implementation in information processing systems. It includes systems analysis and design, application and system software design, programming, and datacenter operations.


Algorithms, Data Bases
Artificial Intelligence
Networking and Communications
Computational Science, Computer Graphics
Software Engineering, Programming Languages
Computer System, Operating System

ALGO Algorithms, Data Bases - The study of algorithms and databases. Software developed to manage any form of data including text, images, sound and video.

ARTI Artificial Intelligence - The study of the ability of a computer or other machine to perform those activities that are normally thought to require intelligence, such as solving problems, discriminating among objects, and/or responding to voice commands. This also includes speech analysis and synthesis.

NET Networking and Communications - The study of systems that transmits any combination of voice, video, and/or data among users.

SCIE Computational Science, Computer Graphics - The study of the use of computers to perform research in other fields, such as computer simulations. Also includes the study of computer graphics or the transfer of pictorial data into and out of a computer by various means (analog-to-digital, optical scanning, etc), such as in computer image processing.

SOFT Software Engineering, Programming Languages - The study of software designed to control the hardware of a specific data processing system in order to allow users and application programs to make use of it. This sub-category includes web technologies, programming languages and human-computer interactions.

SYST Computer System, Operating System - The study of system software responsible for the direct control and management of hardware and basic system operations of a computer.

OTHR Other

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The study of sciences related to the planet Earth (Geology, minerology, physiography, oceanography, meteorology, climatology, speleology, sesismology, geography, atmospheric sciences, etc.)


Climatology, Weather
Geochemistry, Mineralogy
Historical Paleontology
Planetary Science

CLIM Climatology, Meteorology, Weather - the scientific study of the atmosphere that focuses on weather processes and forecasting.

GEO Geochemistry, Mineralogy - The study of the chemical composition of the earth and other planets, chemical processes and reactions that govern the composition of rocks and soils. Mineralogy is focused around the chemistry, crystal structure and physical (including optical) properties of minerals.

HIST Historical Paleontology - The study of life in the geologic past as recorded by fossil remains.

PHY Geophysics - Branch of geology in which the principles and practices of physics are used to study the earth and its environment.

PLAN Planetary Science - The study of planets or planetary systems and the solar system.

TECH Tectonics - The study of the earth's structural features as related to plate structure, plate movement, volcanism, etc.

OTHR Other

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ENGINEERING: Electrical and Mechanical (Code: EE)
The application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical structures, processes, and systems.


Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Controls
Mechanical Engineering
Thermodynamics, Solar

ELEC Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Controls - Electrical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with the technology of electricity, especially the design and application of circuitry and equipment for power generation and distribution, machine control, and communications. A computer engineer is an electrical engineer with a focus on digital logic systems or a software architect with a focus on the interaction between software programs and the underlying hardware architecture.

MECH Mechanical Engineering - The branch of engineering that encompasses the generation and application of heat and mechanical power and the design, production, and use of machines and tools.

ROB Robotics - The science or study of the technology associated with the design, fabrication, theory, and application of robots and of general purpose, programmable machine systems.

THRM Thermodynamics, Solar - Thermodynamics involves the physics of the relationships and conversions between heat and other forms of energy. Solar is the technology of obtaining usable energy from the light of the sun.

OTHR Other

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ENGINEERING: Materials and Bioengineering Code: EN)
The application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical machines and systems.


Civil Engineering, Construction Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Industrial Engineering, Processing
Material Science

BIO Bioengineering - Involves the application of engineering principles to the fields of biology and medicine, as in the development of aids or replacements for defective or missing body organs; the development and manufacture of prostheses, medical devices, diagnostic devices, drugs and other therapies as well as the application of engineering principles to basic biological science problems.

CHEM Chemical Engineering - Deals with the design, construction, and operation of plants and machinery for making such products as acids, dyes, drugs, plastics, and synthetic rubber by adapting the chemical reactions discovered by the laboratory chemist to large-scale production.

CIVI Civil Engineering, Construction Engineering - Includes the planning, designing, construction, and maintenance of structures and public works, such as bridges or dams, roads, water supply, sewer, flood control and, traffic.

IND Industrial Engineering, Processing - Concerned with efficient production of industrial goods as affected by elements such as plant and procedural design, the management of materials and energy, and the integration of workers within the overall system. The industrial engineer designs methods, not machinery.

MAT Material Science - A multidisciplinary field relating the performance and function of matter in any and all applications to its micro, nano, and atomic structure, and vice versa. It often involves the study of the characteristics and uses of various materials, such as metals, ceramics, and plastics and their potential engineering applications.

OTHR Other

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The study of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, clean transport, and alternative fuels.


Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering, Aerodynamics
Alternative Fuels
Fossil Fuel Energy
Vehicle Development
Renewable Energies

AERO Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering, Aerodynamics - The design of aircraft and space vehicles and the direction of the technical phases of their manufacture and operation.

ALT Alternative Fuels - Any method of powering an engine that does not involve petroleum (oil). Some alternative fuels are electricity, hythane, hydrogen, natural gas, and wood.

FOS Fossil Fuel Energy - Energy from a hydrocarbon deposit, such as petroleum, coal, or natural gas, derived from living matter of a previous geologic time and used for fuel.

VEH Vehicle Development - Engineering of vehicles that operate using energy other than from fossil fuel.

REN Renewable Energies - Renewable energy sources capture their energy from existing flows of energy, from on-going natural processes such as sunshine, wind, flowing water, biological processes, and geothermal heat flows.

OTHR Other

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The application of engineering principals to solve practical problems of managing mans' interaction with the environment with the goal to maintain and improve the state of an environmental resource affected by human activities.


Ecosystems Management
Environmental Engineering
Land Resource Management, Forestry
Recycling, Waste Management

BIO Bioremediation - The use of biological agents, such as bacteria or plants, to remove or neutralize contaminants, as in polluted soil or water. Includes phytoremediation, constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment, biodegradation, etc.

ECO Ecosystems Management - The integration of ecological, economic, and social principles to manage biological and physical systems in a manner that safeguards the long-term ecological sustainability, natural diversity, and productivity of the landscape. An ecological approach to managing the environment.

ENG Environmental Engineering - The application of engineering principals to solve practical problems in the supply of water, the disposal of waste, and the control of pollution. Includes alternative engineering methodologies to meet society's needs in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner. Preservation of the environment by preventing the contamination of, and facilitating the clean up of, air, water, and land resources.

LAND Land Resource Management and Forestry - A landscape approach to sustainable resource management, coastal management, biological diversity management, land use planning, or forest succession management. It often includes a resource planning component as well as implementation methodologies. An example would be the management of longleaf pine forests including controlled burns to imitate natural processes.

REC Recycling and Waste Management - The extraction and reuse of useful substances from discarded items, garbage, or waste. The process of managing, and disposing of, wastes and hazardous substances through methodologies such as landfills, sewage treatment, composting, waste reduction, etc.

OTHR Other

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The analysis of existing conditions of the environment.


Air Pollution and Air Quality
Soil Contamination and Soil Quality
Water Pollution and Water Quality

AIR Air Pollution and Air Quality - The study of contamination of the air by such things as noxious gases, elements, minerals, chemicals, solid and liquid matter (particulates), etc. Air pollution is the study of such contaminates in concentrations that endanger the health of humans, plants, and/or animals.

SOIL Soil Contamination and Soil Quality - The study of contamination of the soil by such things as noxious elements, minerals, chemicals, solids, liquids, etc. Soil contamination is the study of such contaminates in concentrations that endanger the health of humans, plants, and/or animals.

WATE Water Pollution and Water Quality - The study of contamination of the water by such things as noxious elements, minerals, chemicals, solids, etc. Water pollution is the study of such contaminates in concentrations that endanger the health of humans, plants, and/or animals.

OTHR Other

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The study of the measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities and sets, using numbers and symbols. The deductive study of numbers, geometry, and various abstract constructs, or structures. 


Computer Mathematics
Combinatorics, Graph Theory, and Game Theory
Geometry and Topology
Number Theory
Probability and Statistics

ALG Algebra - The study of algebraic operations and/or relations and the structures which arise from them. An example is given by (systems of) equations which involve polynomial functions of one or more variables. 

ANAL Analysis - The study of infinitesimal processes in mathematics, typically involving the concept of a limit. This begins with differential and integral calculus, for functions of one or several variables, and includes differential equations. 

COMP Computer Mathematics -  Branch of mathematics that concerns itself with the mathematical techniques typically used in the application of mathematical knowledge to other domains. Not every project that uses some mathematics belongs here; this category is for projects where the mathematics is the primary component.  

COMB Combinatorics, Graph Theory and Game Theory - The study of combinatorial structures in mathematics, such as finite sets, graphs, and games, often with a view toward classification and/or enumeration.

GEO Geometry and Topology - The study of the shape, size, and other properties of figures and spaces. Includes such subjects as Euclidean geometry, non-Euclidean geometries (spherical, hyperbolic, Riemannian, Lorentzian), and knot theory (classification of knots in 3-space).

NUM Number Theory - The study of the arithmetic properties of integers and related topics such as cryptography.

PROB Probability and Statistics - Mathematical study of random phenomena and the study of statistical tools used to analyze and interpret data.

OTHR Other- Studies that cannot be assigned to one of the above categories.

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The science of diagnosing, treating, or preventing disease and other damage to the body or mind.


Disease Diagnosis and Treatment
Molecular Biology of Diseases
Physiology and Pathophysiology

DIS Disease Diagnosis and Treatment - The act or process of identifying or determining the nature and cause of a disease or injury through evaluation of patient history, examination, and review of laboratory data. Administration or application of remedies to a patient or for a disease or injury; medicinal or surgical management; therapy.

EPID Epidemiology - The study of the causes, distribution, and control of disease in populations. Epidemiologists, using sophisticated statistical analyses, field investigations, and complex laboratory techniques, investigate the cause of a disease, its distribution (geographic, ecological, and ethnic), method of spread, and measures for control and prevention.

GENE Genetics - The study of heredity, especially the mechanisms of hereditary transmission and the variation of inherited traits among similar or related organisms.

MOLE Molecular Biology of Diseases - The study of diseases at the molecular level.

PHYS Physiology and Pathophysiology - The science of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of normal tissues or organs. Pathophysiology is the study of the disturbance of normal mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions that a disease causes, or that which causes the disease.

OTHR Other

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The study of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and pathogens. 


Antimicrobial agents
Applied Microbiology
Bacterial Microbiology
Environmental Microbiology
Microbial Genetics

ANTI Antimicrobial Agents - The study of substances that kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms.

APP Applied Microbiology - The study of microorganisms having potential applications in human, animal or plant health or energy production.

BACT Bacterial Microbiology - The study of bacteria and bacterial diseases.

ENV Environmental Microbiology  - The study of the structure, function, diversity and relationship of microorganisms with respect to their environment.

GENE Microbial Genetics - The study of how genes are organized and regulated in microorganisms in relation to their cellular function.

VIRO Virology - The study the anatomy, physiology of viruses and the diseases they cause.

OTHR Other - Studies that cannot be assigned to one of the above categories, such as  microbial cytology, physiology and pathogenesis.

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Physics is the science of matter and energy and of interactions between the two. Astronomy is the study of anything in the universe beyond the Earth.


Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Astronomy and Cosmology
Biological Physics
Condensed Matter and Materials
Instrumentation and Electronics
Magnetics, Electromagnetics and Plasmas
Nuclear and Particle Physics
Optics, Lasers, Masers
Theoretical Physics

AMO Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics - The study of atoms, simple molecules, electrons and light, and their interactions.

ASTR Astronomy and Cosmology - The study of space,  the universe as a whole, including its origins and evolution, the physical properties of objects in space and computational astronomy

BIO Biological Physics - The study of the physics of biological processes.

INST Instrumentation and Electronics - Instrumentation is the process of developing means of precise measurement of various variables such as flow and pressure while maintaining control of the variables at desired levels of safety and economy. Electronics is the branch of physics that deals with the emission and effects of electrons and with the use of electronic devices.

MAT  Condensed Matter and Materials -The study of the preparation, properties and performance of materials to help understand and optimize their behavior. Topics such as superconductivity, semi-conductors, complex fluids, and thin films are studied.

MAG Magnetics, Electromagnetics and Plasmas - The study of electrical and magnetic fields and of matter in the plasma phase and their effects on materials in the solid, liquid or gaseous states.

MECH   Mechanics - Classical physics and mechanics, including the macroscopic study of forces, vibrations and flows; on solid, liquid and gaseous materials

NUCL Nuclear and Particle Physics - The study of the physical properties of the atomic nucleus and of fundamental particles and the forces of their interaction

OPT Optics, Lasers, and Masers - The study of the physical properties of light, lasers and masers.

THEO Theoretical Physics, Theoretical or Computational Astronomy - The study of nature, phenomena and the laws of physics employing mathematical models and abstractions rather than experimental processes. 

OTHR Other - Studies that cannot be assigned to one of the above categories. 

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Study of plant life, including their structure and function, life history, growth, interactions with other plants and animals, classification, and evolution.


Development and Growth
Systematics and Evolution

AGR Agronomy - The application of the various soil and plant sciences to soil management and agricultural and horticultural crop production. Includes biological and chemical controls of pests, hydroponics, fertilizers and supplements.

DEV Development and Growth - The study of a plant from earliest stages through germination and into later life. This includes cellular and molecular aspects of development and environmental effects, natural or manmade, on development and growth.

ECO Ecology  - The study of interactions and relationships among plants, and plants and animals, with their environment.

GEN Genetics/Breeding - The study of organismic and population genetics of plants. The application of plant genetics and biotechnology to crop improvement.

PATH  Pathology -The study of plant disease states, and their causes, processes, and consequences. This includes effects of parasites or disease-causing microbes.

PHY Plant Physiology - The study of functions of plants, their mechanisms, and how they are affected by environmental factors or natural variations. This includes all aspects of photosynthesis.

SYST Systematics and Evolution - The study of classification of organisms and their evolutionary relationships. This includes morphological, biochemical, genetic, and modeled systems.

OTHR Other - Studies that cannot be assigned to one of the above categories, such as the effects of plants or plant-derived substances on animal and human health.

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