This post is sponsored by Regeneron
Clipboard pressed to my body, I made myself as small as possible as I squeezed my way past fellow parents and students in the already narrow space between poster boards during our middle school’s annual STEM Night. As a parent judge, my goal was to locate and talk to the 7th and 8th graders whose names were on individual pieces of paper on my clipboard. As I asked questions about their science investigation’s hypothesis, data collection, research results, and how they thought their research benefits society, my mind wandered back to the Regeneron Science Talent Search (Regeneron STS) and the questions I asked some of the 40 high school senior finalists about their individual research prior to the awards gala.
About the Regeneron Science Talent Search
Since its start in 1942, the Science Talent Search has showcased the country’s best and brightest young scientists as they present original research. Founded and produced by Society for Science & the Public, Regeneron STS is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. Unlike other high school competitions, Regeneron STS focuses on identifying, inspiring, and engaging the nation’s most promising young scientists who are creating ideas that could solve society’s most urgent challenges.
This year around 2000 students submitted original research in critically important scientific fields of study that were judged by leading experts in their field. The field was narrowed to 300 student scholars who were recognized with cash prizes for them and their schools. From that select pool, 40 student finalists were invited to Washington, D.C. where they participated in final judging on their exceptional scientific and mathematical knowledge, problem-solving abilities and potential as future scientific leader.
The Regeneron STS Gala was held at the National Building Museum where 40 finalists lined the perimeter of a room where their poster presentations hung from the ceiling. Dressed in ball gowns and tuxedos, this impressive group of 17 and 18 year-olds made small talk with adults but really came alive when talking about their research and it was hard to not be inspired by their passion, brilliance, youth and diversity.
“Look at today’s finalists…We are in good hands,” said Society for Science & the Public‘s President & CEO, Maya Ajmera who kicked off the Awards Ceremony.
Regeneron STS is not only a platform to showcase science, but it also supports a diverse group of young scientists. Of the 40 student finalists, 80% came from immigrant families and 5 had immigrated themselves. Young women made up nearly half of the 40 Regeneron STS finalists.
“They put themselves on this stage,” said Leonard Schleifer, Founder, President & CEO of Regeneron, talking about the original research that each of the 40 high school students pursued and entered for Regeneron STS. “Scientists should be the world’s heroes…They see the future and bring it back to the present.”
Ana Humphrey (age 18 from Alexandria, VA) won the top award of $250,000 for her mathematical model to determine the possible locations of exoplanets — planets outside our solar system — that may have been missed by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Hypotheses in the field say planetary formation creates dynamically packed systems, so Ana used her model to find “unpacked” spaces where as many as 560 new planets might fit and identified 96 locations as primary search targets. Her research could aid our understanding of the formation of planets and inform our search for life in outer space. Ana is the first Hispanic first-place winner in 20 years.
Second place and$175,000 went to Samuel Weissman (age 17 from Rosemont, PA) for his project analyzing the genetic makeup of HIV in two patients on long-term anti-retroviral therapy to understand why they continued to have “reservoirs” of treatment-resistant HIV-infected cells. Third place and $150,000 went to Adam Ardeishar (age 17 from Alexandria, VA) for his project combining a classic previously unsolved math problem called the “coupon collector problem” with extreme value theory.
Finalists were rewarded with prizes totaling $1.8 million for equally impactful research and as I refocused my attention back to the middle schooler talking about the research on their tri-fold board in front of me, I had to wonder if this tween could be among the next group of Regeneron STS finalists in 6-7 more years.
Learn More About Regeneron STS
Regeneron STS awarded $3.1 million in prizes in 2019, including $2,000 to each of the top 300 scholars and their schools. If you have, or know a soon-to-be high school senior, the application for the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2020 will open Summer 2019. Sign up to be notified about Regeneron STS program updates, including the release of official rules, the launch of the 2020 application, and more.
For additional information about Regeneron Science Talent Search,
- Read the Press Release
- See the full list of finalists
- View a list of the Top 300 Scholars
- Download the Finalist Book to see finalists by state and project title.
If the Regeneron Science Talent Search sounds familiar, it was formerly named for visionary companies Westinghouse (1942–1997) and Intel (1998–2016). Regeneron is the third sponsor of the Science Talent Search and has made a 10-year $100 million commitment to support the development of highly engaged, well-trained, and innovative young thinkers.
STS program alumni include recipients of the world’s most coveted science and math honors, including 11 National Medals of Science, five Breakthrough Prizes, 18 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, two Fields Medals and 13 Nobel Prizes.
Regeneron invited me to the Regeneron Science Talent Search gala and compensated me for this post although all opinions are my own.