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These Regeneron STS finalists share a love for animals

By Rachel Myers

Regeneron STS 2023 Finalists Ishika Nag (left) and Vivian Wu (right) share a love of animals.
Regeneron STS 2023 Finalists Ishika Nag (left) and Vivian Wu (right) share a love of animals. Illustrations by Amy Wike

Regardless of how it manifests, be it in their research or through their social interactions, these Regeneron STS finalists all have a deep affection for animals of all kinds. From the birds and the bees to dogs and tortoises, this year’s finalists are working to make the world a better place for humans and animals alike.

Angela Chen

Angela doesn’t just like frogs, she loves them. “My computer and phone case are heavily decorated with frog stickers. I own many pieces of frog-related clothing, as well as frog earrings, rings and bracelets,” Angela shared. “This unique interest has become a quick conversation starter. Some of my closest friendships have started from me passing out 100+ frog stickers to people.”

Angie Fogarty

Self-described as “not good at sports,” Angie looked for an activity she could safely engage in as a kid. “I looked through National Geographic Kids and the magnificent photos of the animal kingdoms were infatuating,” shares Angie. “I would take notes using colored pencils and compile a presentation on the giant panda. By the end of the summer, I had learned about echolocation and shark anatomy.” While her National Geographic Kids magazines have been greatly replaced with scientific journals, Angie says she still finds any excuse to tell her friends about animal fun facts. She even assisted with a three-hour ACL repair at a veterinary clinic one summer.

Marissa Martinez

Marissa’s interest in helping the endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher bird species led her to be more passionate about science. “I entered research competitions with my project, winning first place at our Regional and State Science Fairs, and I took fourth place in my category at the International Science and Engineering Fair. This incredible experience opened my eyes to the wider world of science,” she shared. “People believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself, led me to find my true passion. I am extremely excited to continue my learning journey and enter the next phase of my development as a scientist.”

Neel Moudgal

Regeneron STS first place winner Neel is not only passionate about STEM, he’s also passionate about caring for dogs in need. “My family and I love animals. I enjoyed volunteering at our local humane society before the pandemic,” says Neel. Neel has two rescue hounds, Sienna and Hudson.

Ishika Nag

Hoping to share her passion for STEM, Ishika joined the Central Florida Zoo as a Teen Team Volunteer. “I’ve learned to handle and nurture animals and have demonstrated at exhibits for animals including tortoises, eagles and tarantulas,” says Ishika. “This activity is a way for me to connect with nature and be close to animals. I enjoy sharing my passion for the environment with the guests at the zoo.”

Emily Ocasio

From a young age, Emily has been an animal lover. “I have been a vegetarian since I was seven,” she says. “In fifth grade I began knitting scarves to raise money for shelter animals and every year or so since then I have hosted a fundraiser for animal related causes.” Emily even rescued a one-eyed, nine-year-old rabbit which sleeps in her bed with her every night.

Vivian Wu

Vivian’s hobby of beekeeping led her to pursue her STS research project. “One of my Boy Scouts of America mentors gave me my first beehive and introduced me to my local beekeepers’ guild,” explains Vivian. “When Randy Oliver, a scientific researcher and expert on miticides, was a guest speaker at one of our guild meetings, I reached out to him about an observation I made related to pollen drop and miticides in my hives, and he provided guidance for my research.” Vivian says she enjoys beekeeping, harvesting honey from her hives and sharing it with friends.

Learn more about the 2023 Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists at the Society’s Virtual Public Exhibition of Projects. If you missed the Awards Ceremony, head to the Society’s YouTube page to watch the top winners be announced.

Rachel Myers