Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Society for Science & the Public Jan. 23 named 40 finalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors, with nearly one-third of the field Indian American students.

The competition, in its 77th year, is designed to engage and inspire the next generation of scientific leaders, a joint Regeneron, Society for Science news release said.

Alumni have gone on to win the Nobel Prize, found top science-based companies and invent groundbreaking new medical treatments, it added.

The finalists were selected from a pool of highly qualified entrants based on their projects’ scientific rigor and their potential to become world-changing scientific leaders.

“The Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists are tomorrow’s scientific leaders, and their projects address some of the most urgent challenges we face as a society. Our world has no greater or more important resource than these bright young minds,” said Dr. George D. Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron and Science Talent Search winner in 1976.

“I have deep respect and appreciation for each student who conducted extensive scientific research and completed a Regeneron Science Talent Search application. I look forward to what the finalists will achieve, as they add to the list of world-changing accomplishments by Science Talent Search alumni before them,” he said.

Among the finalists are Sidhika Balachandar, of Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Fla., for her project, "Picoscale Mechanics of Atomically Engineered Materials."

Kavya Kopparapu, of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., was selected for the project, "GlioVision: A Platform for the Automatic Assessment of Glioblastoma Tumor Features, Molecular Identity, and Gene Methylation from Histopathological Images Using Deep Learning."

San Jose, Calif.-based Lynbrook High School's Rohan Mehrotra was chosen for his project, "On-Demand Electrically Controlled Drug Release from Resorbable Nanocomposite Films."

For his project, "SNPpet: Computational Dissection of the Noncoding Genome Reveals Regulatory Sequence Patterns and Disease-Causing Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms," Rajiv Movva of The Harker School in San Jose, Calif., was named a finalist.

Chythanya Murali, a student at Centennial High School in Ellicott City, Md., was named a finalist for the project, "CAR-NK-Cell Therapy: Raising the Tail of the Survival Curve."

For her project "Evaluation of Gender Bias in Social Media Using Artificial Intelligence," Nitya Parthasarathy of Irvine, Calif.-based Northwood High School was named among the 40 finalists.

Mihir Patel was named a finalist as well. The Alexandria, Va.-based Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology student was chosen for the project, "Automating Limb Volume Measurements of Lymphedema Patients Through Computer Vision."

Advait Patil of Lynbrook High School in San Jose, Calif., was also named among the 13 Indian American finalists for the project, "A High-Throughput Multi-Omics Framework for Global Identification of Novel Molecular Interactions and Genome-Scale Modeling of Multicellular Ecosystems."

Abilash Prabhakaran of Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colo., was named a finalist for the project, "Selective Transfection Using DiBAC4(3)."

For the project, "Investigating the Developmental Requirements of Sex Chromosome Genes Affected in Turner Syndrome," Isani Singh, also of Cherry Creek High in Colorado, was named a finalist.

For her project "Reinventing Cardiovascular Disease Therapy: A Novel Dual Therapeutic with FOXO Transcription Factor and AMP Kinase," Marissa Sumathipala of Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Va., was named a finalist.

Vinjai Vale of Exeter, N.H.-based Phillips Exeter Academy was among the finalists for the project, "A New Paradigm for Computer Vision Based on Compositional Representation."

And Teja Veeramacheneni of Archbishop Mitty High in San Jose, Calif., was named a finalist for the project, "A Novel 3D Wavelet-Based Co-Registration Algorithm with Improved Accuracy for Fusion of PET and MRI Brain Scans.

“This year’s Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists are some of the best and brightest young scientists and mathematicians in our country,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of Society for Science & the Public and publisher of Science News.

“Their projects demonstrate the remarkable power of scientific curiosity, commitment and the desire to make the world a better place," she said. "We are eager to see how they shape the future of STEM in our country and impact people all across the globe.”

The finalists will travel to Washington, D.C., from March 8 to 14, where they will undergo a rigorous judging process and compete for more than $1.8 million in awards.

They will also have the opportunity to interact with leading scientists, meet with members of Congress and display their projects to the public at the National Museum of Women in the Arts on March 11, the news release said.

The finalists are each awarded at least $25,000, and the top 10 awards range from $40,000 to $250,000. The top 10 Regeneron Science Talent Search 2018 winners will be announced at a black-tie gala awards ceremony at the National Building Museum next month.

A total of 300 students were chosen as semifinalists Jan. 9, with at least 70 Indian American and South Asian American students selected (see India-West article here: http://bit.ly/2DBiYsG). The competition began with a field of roughly 1,800 entrants.

Regeneron is only the third sponsor of the Science Talent Search, with a 10-year, $100 million commitment. Regeneron believes that scientists should be the world's heroes and are committed to fostering the next generation of scientific talent through STEM education efforts, the news release said.

The competition overall awards $3.1 million to provide the opportunities and resources that students need to become the next generation of inventors, entrepreneurs and STEM leaders.

In 2017, Indian Americans Indrani Das and Arjun Ramani finished in the top three, with Das taking the top prize (see India-West article here: http://bit.ly/2noGgKP). Nearly a third of the finalists in last year's competition were Indian Americans.

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