The contest celebrates the next generation of scientific leaders inspired to solve the world’s most intractable problems
Three Indian American students are among the top ten winners in the 2022 Regeneron Science Talent Search, America’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.
Neil Chowdhury, 18, of Bellevue, Washington, Pravalika Gayatri Putalapattu, 17, of Centreville, Virginia and Neil Rathi, 17, of Palo Alto, California won the fifth, seventh and eighth places respectively.
More than $1.8 million was awarded to the 40 finalists, who were evaluated based on their projects’ scientific rigor, their exceptional problem-solving abilities and their potential to become scientific leaders, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Society for Science announced March 15.
Read: 70 Indian Americans among Regeneron Science Talent Search toppers (January 7, 2022)
Christine Ye won first place and $250,000 for her project, which analyzed the gravitational waves emitted from huge collisions between neutron stars (collapsed super-dense stars) and black holes,
Fifth place winner Chowdhury received a $90,000 award for creating a computer model to study the role of a histone protein implicated in colon cancer and found that the histone caused changes to two key processes regulating the way DNA folds itself to fit into the nucleus of cells.
His simulations of polymers, using data from a colon cancer cell line, accurately reproduced recent experimental results and showed that the histone modification caused changes in the DNA’s physical formation, specifically compartmentalization and loop extrusion.
Seventh place winner Putalapattu received a $70,000 award for designing a video-assisted workflow recognition program to monitor laparoscopic gall bladder surgeries in real time, verify the surgeons’ actions, and flag errors so immediate corrective action can be taken.
Her work was inspired after a close cousin died from a preventable surgical mistake by a “tired, overworked, underpaid surgeon in India.” Her new system is five times faster than similar systems used currently.
Eighth place winner Rathi received a $60,000 award for identifying common linguistic patterns in four languages that support the theory that human language evolved for greater efficiency in communication.
Using a machine learning model, Rathi studied how our minds optimize language by fusing multiple informational elements into the smallest meaningful unit of a word such as “ed” in “talked,” which conveys both past tense and word completion, and he found patterns of “informational fusion” in all four languages.
For the first time since 2019, the competition was held in person under strict Covid-19 protocols in Washington, DC, after virtual competitions in 2020 and 2021. The finalists were honored during a livestreamed award ceremony emceed by Saturday Night Live’s Melissa Villaseñor.
Read: Four Indian American teens among top winners in 2021 Regeneron Science Talent Search (March 20, 2021)
“The Regeneron Science Talent Search winners give me hope for the future, and I congratulate them on their tremendous success,” said Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of Society for Science, Publisher of Science News and 1985 Science Talent Search alumna.
“For the first time in two years, we have been able to gather in person to celebrate the next generation of scientific leaders who are motivated by curiosity and inspired to solve the world’s most intractable problems. I am impressed by their scientific research and strength of character.”
The Regeneron Science Talent Search provides a national stage for future leaders in STEM – bringing together the best and brightest young minds to present their original research ideas to world-class scientists, according to a press release.
The competition celebrates the hard work, innovative thinking, and creativity of students who are bringing a fresh perspective to solving significant global challenges through rigorous research and cutting-edge discoveries.
The judging panel also considers how these research efforts, innovative thinking and leadership qualities demonstrate the students’ ability to drive forward critical STEM fields in the future.
Read: Indian American finalists in the 2021 Regeneron Science Talent Search aim to tackle world’s vexing problems (February 4, 2021)
“Congratulations to the winners of the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2022, and to all our impressive finalists,” said George D. Yancopoulos, Co-Founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron, and a winner of the 1976 Science Talent Search.
“Each of the students are brilliant scientists and mathematicians, and each has the power to bring real, positive change to society and help address future existential challenges, whether it be climate change, genetic-based diseases or understanding the universe,” he said.
“Having been a winner of the STS back in 1976, I can say from first-hand experience that this is only the beginning of a great path forward for our winners, finalists and scholars. Never stop being curious, never stop exploring and never stop looking for answers,” Yancopoulos added.
All other finalists received $25,000, and each finalist will join the ranks of other Science Talent Search alumni, many of whom have gone on to have world-changing careers in STEM fields.
Some of them have earned the most esteemed honors in science and math, including the Nobel Prize, National Medal of Science and MacArthur Foundation Fellowships.
Read: Three Indian-Americans among top ten students in science talent competition (March 16, 2022)
The Regeneron Science Talent Search, a program of Society for Science since 1942, is America’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.
Each year, nearly 2,000 student entrants submit original research in critically important scientific fields of study and are judged by leading experts in their fields.