2018 Regeneron STS Winners
Forty finalists took home $1.8 million in awards at the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2018, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.
Benjy Firester, 18, of New York City, won the top award of $250,000 for his development of a mathematical model which predicts how disease data and weather patterns could spread spores of the “late blight” fungus that caused the Irish Potato Famine and still causes billions of dollars in crop damages annually. Benjy’s program uses existing blight locations, date, time and detailed local weather data to model the likely routes by which late blight will spread and predict likely future infection sites. Farmers might someday use shared data to assess blight risk and reduce the preemptive use of fungicide.
Second place honors and $175,000 went to Natalia Orlovsky, 18, of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania for her examination of the response of lung epithelial cells to fluids used in vaping, a practice promoted as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. While exposure to e-cigarette vapors did not change a lung cell’s DNA, as does cigarette smoke, Natalia found that fluids of varying flavors and nicotine content did produce a potent stress response associated with decreased cell viability. Her results may demonstrate a need for greater scrutiny of the composition of vaping fluids.
Third place honors and $150,000 went to Isani Singh, 18, of Aurora, Colorado for her work towards determining that women with Turner Syndrome (TS), a genetic abnormality in which the second sex chromosome is missing, do have some cells with two X chromosomes. Knowing that most embryos lacking the second X do not survive, Isani adapted a laboratory protocol to search for and find these normal cells in TS embryos. She also identified genes that are underexpressed in TS, a finding that may help physicians and patients better prepare for the variable medical complications of STS.
Other top honors from the competition include:
Fourth Place: Muhammad (Shahir) Rahman of Portland, Oregon
Fifth Place: David Wu of Potomac, Maryland
Sixth Place: Kyle Fridberg of Boulder, Colorado
Seventh Place: Vinjai Vale of Exeter, New Hampshire
Eighth Place: Skyler Jones of Ossining, New York
Ninth Place: Syamantak Payra of Friendswood, Texas
Tenth Place: Raley Schweinfurth of Portland, Oregon
The remaining 30 finalists each received $25,000.
2018 Regeneron STS Finalists
On January 23, Society for Science & the Public and Regeneron named the 40 finalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search. The finalists are invited to Washington, D.C. in March to undergo final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists, and compete for $1.8 million in awards. Each finalist will receive a minimum $25,000 award, with a top award of $250,000.
Science Talent Search alumni have made extraordinary contributions to science and hold more than 100 of the world’s most coveted science and math honors, including the Nobel Prize and the National Medal of Science.
Students are selected based upon their scientific research and also on their overall potential as future leaders of the scientific community.
To learn more, view the full list of finalists, read the official press release, and read a blog post on Medium by George Yancopoulos, Founding Scientist, President, Regeneron Laboratories and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron; Science Talent Search 1976 Alum.
2018 Regeneron STS Scholars
On January 9, the Society named the top scholars of the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition. The Regeneron Science Talent Search, a program of the Society for Science & the Public, recognizes and empowers the most promising young scientists in the U.S. who are creating the ideas and solutions that solve our most urgent challenges.
Each scholar, selected from 1,818 entrants, receives a $2,000 award with an additional $2,000 going to his or her respective school, resulting in $1.2 million in total scholar awards from Regeneron. The 40 finalists chosen to compete in Washington, D.C in March will be announced on January 23.
To learn more, view the list of scholars, download the Scholars Book, and read a blog post on Medium by Maya Ajmera, Society for Science and the Public President and CEO and Publisher of Science News.
Past Years of the Science Talent Search
Please visit our STS by Year webpages for results, photos and updates from Science Talent Search 1942 - today.