Six seniors distinguished as Regeneron Scholars


Courtesy of Ms. Nardone

Seniors Samantha D'Alonzo, Allison Winter, Michael Nachman, Dylan Langone, Lauren Seidman, and Maria Kogan became scholars in the Regeneron STS competition.

Emily Ma and Rebecca Muratore

Out of over 1,700 applicants, six Schreiber students were distinguished as scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search.  Seniors Samantha D’Alonzo, Dylan Langone, and Maria Kogan, Michael Nachman, Lauren Seidman, and Allison Winter received recognition as Regeneron Scholars, and they will each be given a $2000 prize.

Regeneron STS recognizes 300 students as scholars each year, and 40 of those students will move on to become finalists. Although the Science Talent Search was previously sponsored by Intel, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals took over the competition last year and has committed to nearly doubling the overall award distribution.

This organization gives $3.1 million in awards to students distinguished by Regeneron STS for excellence in research and academic achievement. Regeneron Scholars were announced on Jan. 4.

“I was honestly really surprised because when I submitted to Regeneron, I was still working on my research project,” said D’Alonzo.  “But I was very excited and proud that my hard work over the past three years in research led to this achievement, especially because I got to work on something I felt so passionately about.”

In the summer before their senior year, students in the science, social science, and math research programs are required to complete a research project to be submitted to different research competitions, such as Regeneron STS.  D’Alonzo, Kogan, and Langone are members of the math research program, Nachman and Seidman are in social science research, and Winter is in science research.

Kogan conducted her research at the University of Vermont human genetics laboratory, and was mentored by Dr. Li.  For her project, titled “Constructing a Viral Integration Visualizer: An Application for Analyzing the Patterns of Viral Integrations and Their Impact on Surrounding Genes on the Human Genome,” Kogan developed an application that reveals the patterns of viral integrations in the body as well as genes that may be impacted by the insertion of genetic information by viruses. This was done in order to discover associations between diseases and viruses.

“I wanted to work on a project that would reflect the research of my mentor,” said Kogan.  “Everyone at the lab was very supportive and helpful.”

D’Alonzo completed her project, “Statistical Modeling and SIR Modeling in New York State Counties of Syndrome X Based on Text Based Indicators from Social Media and Food Environment,” under the mentorship of professors Mordecai and Kappagoda from NYU.

D’Alonzo analyzed people’s Twitter behavior using statistical modelling in order to see if there was a correlation between their behavior, the food environment of a particular county in New York State, and the prevalence of obesity in each county.

“I knew I wanted to do something that involved  network science this summer, and I was actually able to use the research I did in sophomore and junior year to connect with mentors that had really similar interests as me, and together we designed this project,” said D’Alonzo.

Seidman was mentored by Dr. Negin Hajizadeh. For her project, “Doctor Facilitated Denial: A Barrier to End of Life Planning Among COPD Patients,” Seidman received data about severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients and their doctors, and determined how often doctors induce feelings of denial in their patients.

“My mentor was amazing,” said Seidman.  “Her name is Dr. Negin Hajizadeh, and she basically helped me become super passionate about the subject by sharing her experiences in the respiratory ICU with me. She told me that it’s really common to have someone come in with really severe COPD and have them be completely uninformed about their condition.”

Winter conducted research at the Pytte Lab at Queens College, under the mentorship of graduate student Jake Jordan. She also worked closely with Carolyn Pytte, the head of the lab.  For her project, “Neurogenesis in the Dentate Gyrus,” Winter analyzed distinct regions of the dentate gyrus for neuron activity and neurogenesis.

This work was necessary because of the connection between memory and neurogenesis, and in order to more thoroughly understand specific areas of the dentate gyrus.

“My mentor taught me all the basics of the field,” said Winter.  “He helped me direct my research a lot, and when I showed him my results, he helped me interpret them and understand their significance in the larger picture of the other research being done in the field.”

For his project, “A Search for Astrophysical Gravitational Waves Using LIGO S6 Data,” Langone used signal processing algorithms to analyze data from a physics experiment, LIGO, in order to locate gravitational waves emitted by black holes and neutron stars.  Langone was mentored by physics professor Steve Liebling, at LIU Post.

“Last year the LIGO team published the first two discoveries of gravitational waves ever,” said Langone.  “I looked at their data and thought that maybe there were more gravitational wave signals embedded somewhere.”

Under the mentorship of political science professor Helmut Norpoth at Stony Brook University, Nachman completed his research, titled “An Analysis of Presidential Primaries as General Election Predictors.”

Nachman used linear regression analysis to analyze the results of the US presidential primaries.  Nachman was able to predict from his findings that Donald Trump would win the 2016 election.

“What first interested me in statistical analysis applied to election forecasting was, a website created by Nate Silver that compiles and analyzes polling data to predict elections,” said Nachman.

Since 2000, Schreiber has had 82 recognized scholars, six finalists, and one winner. Even though the number of applicants has increased and the competition has become fierce, Schreiber continues to improve its quality of projects. For the first time since 2008, six Schreiber students became Regeneron scholars.

“This year, instead of just applying to programs and be given a project, the research students looked for mentors in areas that they truly wanted to research and were interested in,” said math research teacher Ms. Gallagher. “When you’re interested in your research, you work harder and end up with a terrific project.”

Regeneron will announce the 40 finalists on Jan. 24. The finalists will be invited to Washington D. C. in early March, where they will display their work, undergo final judging, and compete for the top awards.