Virginia

Virginia students enter a prestigious science competition

Finalists were selected based on the scientific rigor of their projects and their potential to become world leaders in science.

WASHINGTON – Two Northern Virginia teenagers have been named among the top finalists for the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.

On Wednesday, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Society for Science announced the top 40 finalists in this year’s Regeneron Science Talent Search.

Now in its 82nd year, officials say the competition celebrates and rewards young scientists who focus on a wide range of topics. Many previous winners continued to pursue innovation for the benefit of society and the planet, with program graduates receiving some of the world’s most coveted awards in science and mathematics, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 22 MacArthur Foundation grants, and becoming the founders of many important science-based companies such as Regeneron.

Officials say the 2023 finalists’ research projects demonstrate their breadth of knowledge and commitment to solving societal problems.

Several of the students chose to explore climate change research topics, including one student who studied the environmental potential of man-made materials such as cement to help reduce emissions. Another student assessed the link between air pollution and COVID-19 cases.

Some students invented health monitoring devices, while others delved into space-related issues. Other students deal with social and political issues for their projects.

Emily Ocasio from the New School of Northern Virginia in Fairfax, Virginia and Ethan Zhou from McLean High School in McLean, Virginia have been selected as finalists and will represent the DMV field in the science competition.

Ocasio submitted a project entitled “Demographic Correlates of Humanizing Language in Media Coverage of Crime: Evidence From The Boston Globe, 1976-84” in which she uses artificial intelligence to examine hidden biases toward murder victims in media coverage.

Xhou submitted a project called “Online Learning of Smooth Function,” which examines the mathematical theory behind a type of machine learning called online learning and how it behaves when predicting something very unpredictable.

“Congratulations to an exceptional group of finalists in Regeneron’s 2023 Science Talent Search,” said George D. Yancopoulos, MD, Ph.D., co-founder, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron and a finalist and top winner in Science Talent Search 1976 . “Inspiring and equipping the brightest minds to tackle the world’s most pressing problems is one of the most important ways we can ensure the scientific advances needed to improve our society. We know the future is bright for these young scientists and we are excited to see the positive impact they will make.”

Finalists were selected based on the scientific rigor of their projects and their potential to become world leaders in science. They were selected from a pool of 300 scientists by a national jury of professional scientists. Officials claim the grantees were chosen from a pool of over 1,900 highly qualified applicants.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome this inspiring and highly talented class of Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists,” said Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of the Society for Science and Executive Publisher of Science News. “I am confident that these exceptional students will follow in the footsteps of our many accomplished alumni who are at the forefront of groundbreaking discoveries. The 2023 finalists will use their leadership, intellect, creativity and STEM skills to solve our world’s toughest challenges.”

All finalists are expected to compete in a week-long competition in March 2023, during which they will undergo a rigorous judging process that extends beyond their own research to include other academic disciplines and compete for more than $1.8 million in prizes.

Each finalist will also have the opportunity to interact with leading scientists and share their research during a virtual “Public Day” event on March 12.

Officials say the top 10 winners of the 2023 Regeneron Science Talent Search will be announced during an awards ceremony on March 14, which will be broadcast live in Washington, DC

In total, more than $3 million in awards will be made through the Regeneron Science Talent Search.

Officials say finalists will each receive a minimum of $25,000, and top 10 prizes range from $40,000 to $250,000.

Finalists may use their prize money for educational purposes only and may choose to have those funds donated directly to their college or university. The top 300 grantees, each receiving $2,000, may use their awards as they see fit. Each of their schools will also receive $2,000 in support of math and science programs, a critical investment in their future in STEM and our country’s future as a center for innovation and advancement.

Regeneron Science Talent Search 2023 Fast Facts:

  • The 2023 Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists represent 34 schools in 14 states. They compete for more than $1.8 million with a top prize of $250,000.
  • Forty finalists were selected from 300 scientists and 1,949 participants based on the originality and creativity of their scientific research, as well as their achievement and leadership both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Finalist projects cover scientific disciplines including Animal Science, Behavioral and Social Sciences, Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Computer Science, Engineering, Environmental Science, Genomics, Mathematics, Medicine and Health, Neuroscience, Physics, Plant Science and Space Science.

A list of this year’s finalists can be found here.

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