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Doing Science

Alumni, Regeneron STS, Westinghouse STS

Passing a love of science through generations

7:00AM, March 22, 2017

Grandfather and grandson both competed in Science Talent Search

Doing Science
Frank Sandy and Aaron Yeiser at the 2017 Regeneron STS Awards Gala.

Frank Sandy and Aaron Yeiser at the 2017 Regeneron STS Awards Gala.

PHOTO COURTESY OF SOCIETY FOR SCIENCE & THE PUBLIC/CHRIS AYERS.

Sometimes, the love of science threads its way through the generations of a family, like inherited traits of DNA or lines of code from a cascading style sheet passing on rules to others. This is especially the case for through Aaron Yeiser, who won the second place award at the 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search. His grandparents and father work in computer science, technology, and chemical engineering.

"I was encouraged to pursue a STEM career because of Papa," Aaron said. His grandfather Frank Sandy was a Science Talent Search finalist in 1954, when the competition was sponsored by Westinghouse.

Aaron and Frank designed techniques to solve complex math equations more efficiently.

"Aaron's been doing very well in science and math, so I won't say I was surprised," Frank said of Aaron becoming a Regeneron STS finalist. "I was delighted by not only that, but his getting early-action admission to MIT, which happened just a couple of days after my wife died. She would have just been so thrilled."

"I've been very impressed by the things he's built," Frank said of Aaron's interest in drones and other STEM activities.

Frank, a computer programmer, was also introduced to his STEM field by a family member. "My late wife was the one who got me into computer programming," he explained. When he was working on his Ph.D. thesis, Frank asked his wife to help with data reduction. "I kept looking over her shoulder to see what she was doing, and thought that that was really fascinating," he said. He went into computer programming from there.

Aaron has always been interested in math. Differential equations came along when he applied to the MIT Primes USA program, a mathematical research program for high school students.

Don't blow off English class, because good communication is just as important as your actual research.

Current methods of doing numerical simulations are very inefficient when trying to get precise results. "So I developed a new method that is a much more efficient way to get precise results," Aaron said. His algorithm has applications in fluid dynamics and precision computing in physics. This could lead to better airplanes and possibly better artificial heart pumps, he explained.

For his 1954 STS project, Frank focused on new methods for solving complex cubic equations. There is a very nice formula for quadratic equations that people learn in algebra. But "for cubic equations, there is nothing nice," he said. There was a "horribly complicated" method that Frank couldn't understand. So he created his own technique.

The top three winners of the 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search at the Awards Gala on March 14.

"I've been interested in science all my life," Frank said. "Even in elementary school I played around with electrical wiring and had my bedroom all wired up with batteries and light switches attached to my bed. It was a lot of fun."

Frank worked at Raytheon, creating computer models of various devices. He became more interested in the programming rather than the physics of how the devices worked.

Aaron encourages others who are interested in STEM to look for any opportunity to get involved in research, like through universities or professors. And "don't blow off English class, because good communication is just as important as your actual research," he said.

It's encouraging that in the future I might be working with some of the other finalists.

"Just keep plugging away at it," Frank agreed. "Spend a lot of time reading, [do] whatever experiments you can do, if you're experimentally inclined as opposed to if you're a theoretician, go do them."

Frank Sandy (middle left) and Aaron Yeiser (middle right) with Aaron's parents.

When asked for his most memorable experience as a finalist, Frank laughed and reflected on the changing nature of technology. Back then, all of the official communications for STS were sent through telegrams. "Before the Science Talent Search, I'd never sent or received a telegram," he said. "That's the way they notified winners in those days. The web didn't exist, telephones didn't have answering machines, so they sent out telegrams."

Before the Science Talent Search, I'd never sent or received a telegram. That's the way they notified winners in those days.

"When we got to Washington, we had to send 'safe-arrival' telegrams to our parents to let them know that we had gotten here," he explained. "And I've never sent or received a telegram since then."

Aaron was inspired by meeting other young students at the Regeneron Science Talent Search who were also interested in STEM and were working on diverse research projects. "Everyone has an interesting story to tell," he said. "It's encouraging that in the future I might be working with some of the other finalists."

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11:00am, March 20, 2017

Regeneron, the sponsor of the Science Talent Search, presented several of their inventions and offered advice to the 2017 Regeneron STS finalists last Monday night. Finalists wandered a room of innovations, trying on virtual reality headsets, learning about genetically modified mice born with human immune systems to speed up the drug research stage, and taking photos in front of green screens that placed them in labs and white coats.

Regeneron scientists spoke on a panel, offering advice to the finalists.    
12:00am, March 15, 2017

Forty finalists took home more than $1.8 million in awards at the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2017. Their scientific research ranged from improving biodegradable battery life to finding ways to eliminate space debris.

The top three winners of the 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search at the Awards Gala on March 14.
2:53pm, March 12, 2017

Today, the 40 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists presented their scientific research to the public at the Regeneron STS 2017 Public Exhibition of Projects at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C.

For three hours, Society alumni, judges, students, and members of the public wandered the halls learning about various projects. View photos from the day below!

Members of the public , students, and Society alumni learned about the 2017 Regeneron STS finalists' research.
2:30pm, March 12, 2017

"Science and education are two of the most noble careers anyone could go into," said George Yancopoulos, the Chief Scientific Officer at Regeneron, which sponsors the Science Talent Search.

George spoke to the 2017 Regeneron STS finalists Friday night about how he entered science, his heroes, and how he turned Regeneron into such a great place for scientists to work.

You are our soldiers; your brains are your weapons. We need you to save our world.

George Yancopoulos, Regeneron's CSO, offered advice to the 2017 Regeneron STS finalists.
11:30am, March 12, 2017

Forty posters, 40 finalists, 40 hopes and dreams about STEM. Today, the 40 Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists are presenting their scientific research to the public at the Regeneron STS 2017 Public Exhibition of Projects at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C.

We spoke to four finalists right before the Public Exhibition of Projects began. Read on for an inside look into a few of their incredible projects.

Regeneron STS 2017 finalists read copies of <em>Science News.</em>
10:29am, March 9, 2017

This Sunday, March 12, 2017, come to the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. for the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2017 Public Exhibition of Projects as the 40 finalists present their scientific research to the public, students, and judges.

Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna explains her project at STS 2016 public exhibition of projects.
10:59am, February 28, 2017

Society for Science & the Public's Advocate Grant Program provides a stipend to an individual (teacher, counselor, mentor), who agrees to serve as an advocate for 3-5 underrepresented students to transition them from conducting a scientific or engineering research project to completing applications to scientific competition(s).

7:00am, February 23, 2017

Elson Galang leads a network of Intel ISEF alumni in the Philippines. He was an Intel ISEF 2012 finalist and brings alumni in the country together to train hundreds of students and teachers in precollege research, and equip them with skills for science fairs and beyond.

Previous ISEF Philippine Team members discuss their ISEF experiences during the National Science and Technology Fair, the ISEF-affiliated fair of the Philippines. 
10:00am, February 21, 2017

Are you a STEM mentor? Apply to our Advocate Grant Program by February 26.

Society for Science & the Public's Advocate Grant Program provides a stipend to an individual (teacher, counselor, mentor), who agrees to serve as an advocate for 3-5 underrepresented students to transition them from conducting a scientific or engineering research project to completing applications to scientific competition(s).

7:00am, February 7, 2017

Cleaning up oil spills is an intensive, dirty job. One middle school student wanted to find the most efficient and sustainable cleaning method for oil spills.

Nathan Deng, a 2016 Broadcom MASTERS top winner, washes dishes at home and noticed that both dishwashing and oil spills require surfactant chemicals. Surfactants grab onto grease to help water wash it away. They break up the surface tension of a liquid, disintegrating big drops. Some of these chemicals are toxic to ecosystems when mixed with oily compounds, like an oil spill.

Nathan Deng explains his project to a judge at the Science and Engineering Project Showcase.
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