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300 glimmers of hope: the 2021 Regeneron STS scholars

By Aparna K. Paul

STS 2021 Scholars
300 Glimmers of Hope: The 2021 Regeneron STS Scholars

It’s been a rough year. Daily papers headlined with endless news about an oppressive pandemic, trials and outcomes of vaccine research, overcrowded hospitals, and most recently, death and violence in the nation’s capital. It’s been nothing short of overwhelming. If you look carefully though, you can find a silver lining to eclipse the gloom.

The next generation of young people offers hope. Among them is the 2021 class of Regeneron STS top 300 scholars, the most promising young scientists and engineers in the country. The cohort of 300 was selected from a larger pool of 1,760 applicants, a class that embodies determination and resilience. They are the cream of the crop in STEM fields, but also excel in areas beyond their research. We are thrilled to share with you some fun statistics about this cohort as well as a selection of their phenomenal talents — some rare and unusual.

  • This year’s top 300 scholars are from 37 states. One hails from Puerto Rico (the first since 1999), one from Singapore and another from Taiwan!
  • One scholar has social justice in her blood. Her grandmother is related to Malcolm X and Edgar Nixon, the founder of the NAACP.
  • Another scholar won the Children’s Climate Prize, joining the international ranks of winners such as Greta Thunberg. The award ceremony she attended was held at Stockholm City Hall, also the venue of the Nobel Prize Ceremony.
  • Three scholars are members of the organization Girls Who Code (GWC). One scholar initiated a GWC club at her school to help close the gender gap and empower her female classmates to feel confidence in their pursuit of computer science careers.
  • Podcasting is all the rage. One scholar says they love Hamilton so much that they’ve created a podcast wholly dedicated to the musical!
  • With the pandemic presenting many scientific challenges, it’s encouraging to see that 28 scholars’ STS projects directly relate to COVID-19.
  • One scholar became a circus performer in the 5th grade. His juggling repertoire includes machetes, axes, traffic cones and flaming sticks of fire. His skills have led him to performing at parties, ticketed theatre events and even live television!
  • They are multilingual — 269 of the 300 scholars (~89%!) speak a language in addition to English; 164 speak two other languages; 41 speak three others and 9 speak four other languages.
  • One scholar is a poi dancer, a technique where balls of fire are spun from ropes or chains, using intricate arm motions. He says this Maori-derived dance technique gives him an outlet to express his passions.
  • This group of scholars is dedicated to service, taking care of the world in which they live. Six of the scholars this year are Girl Scouts and seven are Boy Scouts.
  • A few of the scholars are Personal Protective Equipment creators. One student has been 3D printing face shields, based on an NIH blueprint. His work was recognized by the governor of his state. A few others have stayed busy sewing masks for family and friends.
  • Who isn’t inspired by the night sky? As an astrophotographer, this scholar packs his tracking telescope, along with a few friends, to locations with little to no light pollution. He loves to take photographs of the planets, galaxies and the stars.
  • Some of our scholars are rap artists. One scholar has his first studio album debuting at the end of the year. Though he loves classical musical, he’s also been fascinated by the study and performance of hip-hop. And why not rap content from Dr. Seuss books? Another scholar is also a rapper, fascinated by the intersection of children’s stories and modern-day hip hop, and explores those connections in his mini studio at home.

Want to follow along? Sign up to receive Regeneron Science Talent Search updates here. Stay tuned for the finalists announcement on January, 21, when 40 of the 300 scholars will be named Regeneron STS finalists.

Aparna Paul