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Selina Zhang

North Hunterdon High School
Annandale, NJ

ArTreeficial: A Novel AI-Integrated Solution to Reducing Invasive Spotted Lanternfly Populations

Selina Zhang designed and field-tested an eco-conscious, A.I.-powered artificial tree that uses machine learning to selectively lure, identify, and kill the destructive and invasive spotted lanternfly. Her eco-friendly prototype tree cost her just under $200 to build and she hopes it may be a useful tool in controlling invasive species.

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Selina Zhang, 18, of Annandale, designed and field tested a synthetic, eco-conscious, A.I.-powered tree that uses machine learning to selectively lure and “zap” the invasive spotted lanternfly (SLF) for her Regeneron Science Talent Search environmental science project. Found in large numbers, with few known predators, SLFs annually cause a tremendous amount of damage to agriculture. Selina’s ArTreeficial tree, made from an umbrella, lures the insects using an incense she made from the SLF’s favorite tree, the tree of heaven, also an invasive species.

She used A.I. to first identify the SLF and then energize an electric mesh to kill them. The entire system is solar-powered. Selina’s prototype tree costs just under $200 to construct, but she believes large-scale production could dramatically reduce the cost. She is also researching ways to improve her attractant using an essence from dead SLFs.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Selina Zhang

At North Hunterdon High School, Selina’s passion for STEM opportunities motivated her to bring the USA Biology Olympiad to the school and to found and lead the science bowl and science fair clubs. The daughter of Fan Zhang and Ting Wang, Selina is an award-winning violinist who has performed solo at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Selina Zhang

Beyond the Project

As a leader of her school’s diversity club, Selina organized diversity, equity, and inclusion guest speaker events and celebrations of culture from around the world such as Diwali and Dia de los Muertos.

FUN FACTS: Selina loves cooking and baking everything from tamales to creative “fusion” beverages, to tiramisu-in-a-cup.

Illustration of 2024 STS finalist Selina Zhang by Amy Wike