Regeneron STS 2018

The top three winners of Regeneron STS 2018 on stage at the awards gala. Photo courtesy of Society for Science & the Public/Chris Ayers.

March 13, 2018: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Society for Science & the Public today announced that Benjamin “Benjy” Firester, 18, of New York City, won the top award in the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2018, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. Forty finalists, including Benjy, were honored tonight at the annual Regeneron Science Talent Search awards gala, which was keynoted by renowned author Malcolm Gladwell. Regeneron provided awards of more than $1.8 million for the finalists, who were evaluated for their research projects, as well as their exceptional scientific and mathematical knowledge and abilities.

Benjy Firester won first place and $250,000 for his development of a mathematical model that uses disease data to predict how weather patterns could spread spores of the late blight fungus, which caused the Irish Potato Famine and still causes billions of dollars in crop damages annually. Benjy’s program uses existing blight locations, date, time and detailed local weather data to model the likely routes by which late blight will spread and predict likely future infection sites. Farmers might someday use shared data to assess blight risk and reduce the preemptive use of fungicide.

Second place and $175,000 went to Natalia Orlovsky, 18, of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, for her examination of the response of lung epithelial cells to fluids used in vaping, a practice promoted as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. While exposure to e-cigarette vapors did not change a lung cell’s DNA, as does cigarette smoke, Natalia found that fluids of varying flavors and nicotine content did produce a potent stress response associated with decreased cell viability. Her results may demonstrate a need for greater scrutiny of the composition of vaping fluids.

Third place and $150,000 went to Isani Singh, 18, of Aurora, Colorado, for her work towards determining that women with Turner Syndrome (TS), a genetic abnormality in which the second sex chromosome is missing, do have some cells with two X chromosomes. Knowing that most embryos lacking the second X do not survive, Isani adapted a laboratory protocol to search for and find these normal cells in TS embryos. She also identified genes that are under expressed in TS, a finding that may help physicians and patients better prepare for the variable medical complications of TS.

Other top honors from the competition include:

Fourth Place: Muhammad (Shahir) Rahman of Portland, Oregon, received a $100,000 award for engineering an internet-enabled microwave oven capable of simultaneously heating different foods on the same plate to optimal temperatures without requiring user input.

Fifth Place: David Wu of Potomac, Maryland, received a $90,000 award for his project studying the patterns of sequential prime numbers.

Sixth Place: Kyle Fridberg of Boulder, Colorado, received an $80,000 award for his discovery of a new compound that may be useful in improving rechargeable battery technology.

Seventh Place: Vinjai Vale of Exeter, New Hampshire, received a $70,000 award for creating a system that may improve the ability of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to understand complex scenes.

Eighth Place: Skyler Jones of Ossining, New York, received a $60,000 award for her study of the crystal perovskite and identification of key properties of its atomic structure that make it a highly efficient semiconductor, despite its structural defects and low stability.

Ninth Place: Syamantak Payra of Friendswood, Texas, received a $50,000 award for his creation of a smart bionic leg brace that bends the knee automatically as the wearer walks.

Tenth Place: Raley Schweinfurth of Portland, Oregon, received a $40,000 award for her study of contamination levels following a 2013 incident of insecticide spraying in Oregon that killed more than 50,000 bees.

The remaining 30 finalists each received $25,000. These students join the ranks of other Science Talent Search alumni who have gone on to receive more than 100 of the world’s most esteemed science and math honors, including the Nobel Prize and the National Medal of Science, to start successful biotechnology and technology companies, and to change the world through their myriad inventions.


Read a blog post on Medium by George Yancopoulos, Founding Scientist, President, Regeneron Laboratories and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron; Science Talent Search 1976 Alum.

Download the Finalist Book

Download the Scholars Book


Balachandar, Sidhika
Buchholz High School, Gainesville, Florida
Picoscale Mechanics of Atomically Engineered Materials

Caldwell, Reese
Conestoga High School, Berwyn, Pennsylvania
Optical Control of Protein Assembly and Activity in Cell-Like-Compartments

Chen, Maggie
Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego, California
Cell Membrane-Coated Nanodevice for Anti-Virulence Therapy Against Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Fang, Andrew
Jericho Senior High School, Jericho, New York
Artemisinin as a Potential Parkinson’s Disease Treatment via Alleviation of α-Synuclein Mediated Neuronal Damage and Inflammation

Feiner, Ella
Horace Mann School, Bronx, New York
Exploring Posterior Growth in D. rerio Using a Live Cell Cycle Biosensor

Firester, Benjamin
Hunter College High School, New York, New York
Modeling the Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Phytopthora infestans on a Regional Scale

Fridberg, Kyle
Fairview High School, Boulder, Colorado
Discovery and Characterization of a Layered Fe(III)/Mn(III) Sulfate Compound: Precursor for New Lithium-ion Battery Cathodes

Gao, Sarah
Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, Maryland
Developing Phage Endolysins as Novel Therapeutics for Multi-drug Resistant Bacterial Infections

Golowich, Louis
Lexington High School, Lexington, Massachusetts
New Efficient Deterministic Parallel Random Number Generators with Improved Theoretical Properties

Huang, Davey
Iolani School, Honolulu, Hawaii
A Morphokinetic and Machine Learning Model for Aneuploidy Screening of Human Preimplantation Embryos

Hutchison, Charley
St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, Ridgeland, Mississippi
Kinetics and Thermodynamics of Deeply-Supercooled Liquids

Jones, Skyler
Ossining High School, Ossining, New York
Large Polaron Formation as a Charge Carrier Protection Mechanism in MAPbBr3 and CsPbBr3 Perovskite Crystals

Komo, Andrew
Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, Maryland
Cryptographically Secure Proxy Bidding in Ascending Clock Auctions

Kopparapu, Kavya
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia
GlioVision: A Platform for the Automatic Assessment of Glioblastoma Tumor Features, Molecular Identity, and Gene Methylation from Histopathological Images Using Deep Learning

Lo, Chiu Fan Bowen
Jericho Senior High School, Jericho, New York
Near-Field Nanoscopy Simulation by Incorporating Harmonic Demodulation and Cone-Shaped Probing Tip

Ma, Michael
Plano West Senior High School, Plano, Texas
New Results on Permutation Pattern-Replacement with a Generalization of Erdős-Szekeres.

Mehrotra, Rohan
Lynbrook High School, San Jose, California
On-Demand Electrically Controlled Drug Release from Resorbable Nanocomposite Films

Movva, Rajiv
The Harker School, San Jose, California
SNPpet: Computational Dissection of the Noncoding Genome Reveals Regulatory Sequence Patterns and Disease-Causing Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms

Murali, Chythanya
Centennial High School, Ellicott City, Maryland
CAR-NK-Cell Therapy: Raising the Tail of the Survival Curve

Orlovsky, Natalia
Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania
Electronic Cigarette Vapor and the Induction of the Xenobiotic Response in Human Lung Epithelial Cells

Parthasarathy, Nitya
Northwood High School, IRVINE, California
Evaluation of Gender Bias in Social Media Using Artificial Intelligence

Patel, Mihir
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia
Automating Limb Volume Measurements of Lymphedema Patients Through Computer Vision

Patil, Advait
Lynbrook High School, San Jose, California
A High-Throughput Multi-Omics Framework for Global Identification of Novel Molecular Interactions and Genome-Scale Modeling of Multicellular Ecosystems

Payra, Syamantak
Clear Brook High School, Friendswood, Texas
A Smart Bionic Leg Orthosis: The Design, Development and Evaluation of an Orthotic Device for Comprehensive Restoration of Gait Characteristics Across Everyday Mobility Scenarios

Pentland, Dylan
The Newman School, Boston, Massachusetts
Coefficients of Gaussian Polynomials Modulo N

Prabhakaran, Abilash
Cherry Creek High School, Greenwood Village, Colorado
Selective Transfection Using DiBAC4(3)

Rahman, Muhammad
Westview High School, Portland, Oregon
A Smart Burn/Spill Proof “SAFE” Microwave That Spares the Salad: A Novel Application of Levenberg-Marquardt Algorithms and Machine Learning for Real-time Thermodynamic Modeling

Ren, Michael
Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts
On Quasiinvariant Polynomials

Sadhuka, Shuvom
Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Searching for Topological Bubbles for Phononic Honeycomb Lattice

Schweinfurth, Raley
Oregon Episcopal School, Portland, Oregon
Detection and Removal of Dinotefuran from the Environment: A Multi-Year HPLC-MS Analysis

Shareef, Haniya
Lincoln Park Academy, Fort Pierce, Florida
Molecular Characterization and Enhanced Efficacy in the Development of a Novel Host-Specific Bioherbicide Candidate for Cyperus rotundus

Singh, Isani
Cherry Creek High School, Greenwood Village, Colorado
Investigating the Developmental Requirements of Sex Chromosome Genes Affected in Turner Syndrome

Sumathipala, Marissa
Broad Run High School, Ashburn, Virginia
Reinventing Cardiovascular Disease Therapy: A Novel Dual Therapeutic with FOXO Transcription Factor and AMP Kinase

Tian, Grace
The Wellington School, Columbus, Ohio
Linear Upper Bound on the Ribbonlength of Torus Knots and Twist Knots

Vale, Vinjai
Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire
A New Paradigm for Computer Vision Based on Compositional Representation

Veeramacheneni, Teja
Archbishop Mitty High School, San Jose, California
A Novel 3D Wavelet-Based Co-Registration Algorithm with Improved Accuracy for Fusion of PET and MRI Brain Scans

Wang, Franklyn
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia
Monodromy Groups of Indecomposable Rational Functions

Wu, David
Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, Maryland
Nonuniform Distributions of Patterns of Sequences of Primes in Prime Moduli

Xie, Justin
The Harker School, San Jose, California
A New Light: Type Ia Supernovae Mechanism Identification Through Spectral Analysis of Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxies and Comparison to Theoretical Models

Zhang, Alice
Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, Maryland
A Dynamic Programming Algorithm for Minimizing Delays in Traffic Intersections