Eighteen students from area schools were named semifinalists and scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search last week, with projects ranging from texting-related brain activity and cancer treatments to the effects of gender bias.
The Regeneron Science Talent Search, hosted by the Society for Science & the Public and sponsored by Regeneron, has been active since 1942 and bills itself as the country’s “most prestigious pre-college science competition.”
Each of the 300 high school students named received $2,000, as did their respective schools, totaling $1.3 million. Forty finalists will be chosen from this pool on Jan. 23 to compete in Washington, D.C., in March for $1.8 million in awards.
“These exceptional students are true leaders and innovators – the top 300 young scientists in our country today,” Maya Ajmera, the president and CEO of Society for Science & the Public, wrote on Medium. “They have an enthusiasm and passion for STEM that I know will inspire them to do amazing things as they head to college and beyond.”
The Great Neck and Roslyn school districts had the most scholars, with a total of five each, followed by the Port Washington school district with three, Manhasset and the East Williston school districts with two, and Herricks school district with one.
Roslyn High School had the most scholars at five: Adrian Ke, Brandon Lee, Mayeesa Rahman, Lindsey Rust and Justin Schiavo.
“I’m very happy that my project has taken me this far,” Ke said, “and I’m looking forward to continuing to use the skills I learned in research to study other issues relevant to my life.”
Ke’s project focused on how graphs could educate people about health risks, Lee worked on protein delivery within the body, Rahman investigated how gender plays a role in how people judge academic dishonesty, Rust studied bias against female coaches, and Schiavo – inspired by a love of astronomy – experimented with aerospike nozzles.
“They’re an outstanding group,” said Allyson Weseley, Roslyn’s coordinator for secondary research. “They all deserve this kind of recognition.”
Great Neck North High School had four scholars – Aaron Geula, Michelle Goh, Christopher Lu and Joshua Rothbaum – while Great Neck South High School had one scholar, Ethan Wang.
Geula studied cross brain coherence, Goh investigated the differences in brain stimulation between text-based chatting with humans and chatbots, Rothbaum designed an electrostatic mobility filter, and Lu studied the domesticated gag gene in zebrafish.
Wang, meanwhile, studied the use of artemisinin and mefloquine as a chemotherapeutic therapy against colorectal cancer.
“It is the nation’s oldest and it’s also considered the most prestigious pre-college science competition in the country,” Great Neck School Superintendent Teresa Prendergast said on Thursday night. “I couldn’t be more proud of our students, our faculty who have supported them along the way and the many, many hours of research that was involved.”
Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington had three scholars: Jolie Bercow, Emma Levin and Leah Taylor.
Levin studied increased hurricane risks for communities in the United States as a result of climate change, Taylor examined the effects of celebrity political endorsements on Instagram on high school student activism, and Bercow studied how herbivory affects plant reproduction in milkweed-dominated communities.
“The district is so proud of Jolie, Emma, and Leah for this incredible accomplishment and we applaud them for their dedication and thoroughness to their scientific research,” said Kathleen Mooney, the superintendent of Port Washington Union Free School District. “We will continue to cheer them on and support these outstanding students as they move into the next round of the competition.”
Richard Lee and Kendrick Tak were Manhasset High School’s two Regeneron Scholars. Lee interpreted geophysical fluid mechanics, while Tak studied the reduction of degeneration related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
“I am incredibly proud of Richard and Kendrick for being named Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholars. It is a tremendous achievement and a testament to how hard they’ve worked,” Manhasset Superintendent Vincent Butera said. “Richard and Kendrick are great representatives of Manhasset Public Schools and we wish them much luck as they continue in the competition!”
The Wheatley School in Old Westbury, which is part of the East Williston School District, had two scholars: Manan Shukla, who created a special pill dispenser that uses cloud technology to accurately report medication intake, and Brandon Zhu, who created a secure encryption protocol.
“This particular competition accepts the best of the best, and we’re proud two students were nominated this year,” said Alexis Pace, the director of sciences at the Wheatley School, adding that this brings a “sense of pride to the district.”
Herricks High School senior Eish Maheshwari was recognized as a Regeneron Scholar for translational medicine research. His project focused on the design of a red blood cell-based drug delivery platform involving re-engineered silica nanoparticles.
“Being named a Regeneron Scholar is a truly amazing accomplishment. Eish is a brilliant and hard-working student who is well deserving of this honor,” Herricks Superintendent of Schools Fino Celano said. “We also recognize the efforts of Rénee Barcia, our science research program coordinator, for her dedication to our very successful research program at Herricks High School.”
With 103 scholars, New York was home to more than a third of the total scholars. Long Island scholars, totaling 53, made up the majority of that.
The Jericho school district topped the Long Island list of Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholars, with eight students claiming the honor. This was followed by the Great Neck and Roslyn districts, with five scholars each.
Last year, 14 students from area schools were named Regeneron Science Talent Search scholars.
Jed Hendrixson, Teri West and Jessica Parks contributed reporting.