Congratulations to the 2021 Regeneron Science Talent Search Finalists!

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Society for Science (the Society) announced that Yunseo Choi won the $250,000 top award in the 2021 Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. Historically held in person in Washington, D.C., this is the second year in its 80-year history that the competition took place virtually to keep the finalists and their families safe during the ongoing pandemic. Forty finalists, including Yunseo, were honored tonight during a virtual winners’ award ceremony. Dasia Taylor was named the Seaborg Award winner and given the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Regeneron Science Talent Search Class of 2021. The 40 finalists chose Dasia as the student who most exemplifies their class and the extraordinary attributes of nuclear chemist Glenn T. Seaborg, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1951 and served on the Society’s Board of Trustees for 30 years. More than $1.8 million was awarded to the finalists, who were evaluated based on their projects’ scientific rigor, their exceptional problem-solving abilities and their potential to become scientific leaders.


The 2021 Regeneron STS Top Winners

The Top Ten 2021 Regeneron STS Winners

First Place: Yunseo Choi

Award Value: $250,000
City, State: Exeter, NH


Yunseo Choi won first place for her project where she played theoretical “match maker” for an infinite number of things or people. She studied matching algorithms that work for a finite number of couples and determined which important properties would still work for an infinite number of pairs. Matching theory has numerous real-life applications, including matching organ donors to recipients, assigning medical school applicants to rotations and pairing potential couples in dating apps.

Second Place: Noah Getz

Award Value: $175,000
City, State: New York, NY


Noah Getz, 17, of New York, New York, adjusted the way computer models identify promising pharmaceutical compounds, which could make the discovery of new drugs faster and less expensive. Noah’s method treats classification as an information retrieval task, similar to the ranking results from a browser search. When he tested his model, it identified two drugs that might dramatically reduce the levels of an inflammation marker implicated in both Alzheimer’s disease and COVID-19.

Third Place: Eshani Jha

Award Value: $150,000
City, State: San Jose, CA


Eshani Jha, 17, of San Jose, California, developed a biochar filtration system that removes microplastics, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and heavy metals (such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury) from drinking water. Biochar has properties similar to charcoal but is much more sustainable and affordable because it can be made from biowastes. Eshani found that its effectiveness could be enhanced by increasing its surface area and carbon content and by adding certain chemical modifications to improve its ability to sequester contaminants. She estimates her filter would cost under a dollar per month.

Fourth Place: Gopal Goel

Award Value: $100,000
City, State: Portland, OR


Gopal Goel, 17, of Portland, Oregon made mathematical connections between two subjects regarding randomness and probability. Prior work by others had shown that a connection existed, but Gopal indicated that this connection is much more general in nature. He believes his work can be useful to researchers in the fields of nuclear physics, quantum field theory and meteorology, and hopes it will aid in the search for the true nature of quantum gravity, more commonly known as “the theory of everything.”

Fifth Place: Timothy Qian

Award Value: $90,000
City, State: Rockville, MD


Timothy Qian, 18, of Rockville, Maryland studied quantum metrology, which uses quantum entanglement to get more accurate measurements. Tim developed an innovative protocol that could one day be used with quantum sensor networks to improve hardware controlling quantum computers and improve nanoscale nuclear magnetic resonance imaging.

Sixth Place: Vetri Vel

Award Value: $80,000
City, State: Veazie, ME


Vetri Vel, 16, of Veazie, Maine engineered a deep learning system that combines a small computer and a thermal camera to detect heat signatures of a fallen person and immediately text for help. His hands-free detection system was able to distinguish among competing images to identify a fallen person at an average accuracy of 98 percent. He started his project after a neighbor collapsed alone at home. Falls are a leading cause of fatal injury among older adults.

Seventh Place: Alay Shah

Award Value: $70,000
City, State: Plano, TX


Alay Shah, 17, of Plano, Texas developed a diagnostic tool that tracks eye movement to identify neurological disorders that he hopes can become a low-cost alternative to MRIs. Alay’s tool tracks pupil movement and gaze with an infrared camera and uses software he wrote. The data is then analyzed using deep learning algorithms to identify abnormal eye reflexes. In clinical tests of patients with Parkinson’s, dementia, multiple sclerosis and ADHD, Alay found unique eye patterns associated with each condition.

Eighth Place: Wenjun Hou

Award Value: $60,000
City, State: Portland, OR


Wenjun Hou, 18, of Portland, Oregon used quantum computing to solve the well-known computer science question called the “knapsack problem.” He not only wrote a new quantum algorithm, but also designed quantum hardware to implement the central component of his algorithm. This is believed to be the first time this has ever been done.

Ninth Place: Vivian Yee

Award Value: $50,000
City, State: Beverly Hills, MI


Vivian Yee, 17, of Beverly Hills, Michigan researched inequalities in COVID-19 incidence and outcomes in the counties of New York City. By modelling rates of transmission, recovery and death alongside housing, education and employment status, she found higher rates of transmission and death in more socially vulnerable communities. Her findings, which are included in a Consensus Memorandum accepted by the Congressional Coronavirus Task Force, may help guide future policies and initiatives for public health.

Tenth Place: Sam Christian

Award Value: $40,000
City, State: Austin, TX


Sam Christian, 17, of Austin, Texas performed research looking at computationally modeled data from numerous observatories and NASA’s TESS telescope to identify and observe movements of planets in 69 wide-binary star systems, which are twin-star systems spaced up to a light year apart. He showed that the orbits of these exoplanets align to a great extent with the orbit of their binary system. His findings, when applied to a larger sample, could shed additional light on how planets are formed and evolve.