San Jose Indian-American teenager Eshani Jha takes 3rd place in the Regeneron Science Talent Search competition and wins $ 150K | Global Indian
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Society for Science announced the winners of their annual – albeit virtual – Regeneron Science Talent Search competition on March 17th, with Indian American Eshani Jha among the main winners.
17-year-old Jha from San Jose, California took third place in the competition and won $ 150,000 for developing a biochar filter system that removes microplastics, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and heavy metals (such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury) drinking removes water. Biochar has similar properties to charcoal, but it is much more sustainable and affordable because it can be made from bio-waste.
Jha found that its effectiveness can be improved by increasing its surface area and carbon content, and by adding certain chemical modifications to improve its ability to bind contaminants. She estimates her filter would cost less than a dollar a month, the joint press release said.
Yunseo Choi, 18, of Exeter, New Hampshire, won the top award of $ 250,000 in the country’s oldest high school graduate science and math competition. Noah Getz, 17, of New York City, won the second prize of $ 175,000.
Other notable Indian-American winners were Gopal Krishna Goel, 17, of Portland, Oregon; and Alay Shah, 17, from Plano, Texas.
“Congratulations to the 2021 Regeneron Science Talent Search winners,” said Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of the Society for Science, publisher of Science News and a 1985 Science Talent Search graduate.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, students like Yunseo demonstrated incredible resilience and perseverance in the face of new obstacles, conducted rigorous research while navigating an unsafe world. These young people are the stewards of our future and I couldn’t be more inspired by their hard work and sheer strength, ”added Ajmera.
Regeneron Science Talent Search provides a national stage for future STEM leaders – it brings together the best and brightest young people to present their original research ideas to leading scientists.
The competition recognizes the hard work, innovative thinking, leadership, and creativity of students who, through rigorous research and innovative discovery, open a new perspective for solving significant global challenges.
The jury also examines how these research efforts, innovative thinking and leadership skills demonstrate the students’ potential to become future leaders in critical STEM areas.
Goel, who finished fourth, received a $ 100,000 award for mathematical research that made connections between two subjects related to randomness and probability.
Previous work by others had indicated that there was a connection, but Gopal suggested that this connection is much more general in nature. He believes his work can be useful to researchers in the fields of nuclear physics, quantum field theory, and meteorology, and hopes that it will help in the search for the true nature of quantum gravity, commonly known as the “theory of everything” said.
Shah finished seventh and received a $ 70,000 award for developing a diagnostic tool that tracks eye movement to identify neurological disorders that he hopes may be a cost-effective alternative to MRI.
Shah’s tool tracks the movement and gaze of the students with an infrared camera and uses the software he wrote. The data is then analyzed using deep learning algorithms to identify abnormal eye reflexes. In clinical trials of patients with Parkinson’s, dementia, multiple sclerosis, and ADHD, Shah found unique eye patterns associated with each condition.
“Congratulations to this year’s Regeneron Science Talent Search winners. Your curiosity and passion for science, as well as your unique genius for it, have now been confirmed, ”said Dr. George D. Yancopoulos, Co-Founder, President, and Scientific Director of Regeneron.
Any finalist who was not in the top 10 received $ 25,000. These students join the ranks of other Science Talent Search alumni, many with world-changing careers in STEM fields, some of whom have received the most prestigious awards in science and math, including the Nobel National Medal of Science Scholarships and MacArthur Foundation.
In total, Regeneron awarded $ 3.1 million in prizes as part of the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2021, including $ 2,000 to all top scientists and their schools.
Historically held in person in Washington, DC, this was the second year in its 80-year history that the competition was held virtually to protect the finalists and their families during the ongoing pandemic.
40 finalists were honored in a virtual award ceremony. More than $ 1.8 million was awarded to finalists, who were judged on the scientific accuracy of their projects, their exceptional problem-solving skills, and their potential to become scientific leaders.
(See India-West’s article on the Indian-American finalists here: https://bit.ly/3lswpyJ)