Tips and Tricks to Becoming a Top 300 Science Talent Search Scholar

posted in: STEM Education | 0

Last month, 4 MSEF students were selected as Top 300 scholars in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) competition. The competition highlights current high school seniors and their phenomenal research projects. These 4 students, Daisy Wang, Andrew Zhang, Pratik Bharadwaj, and Renny Gong all had special and unique projects that led to the great achievement of being named a top 300 scholar.

For these students, the STS competition was not their first attempt at an independent research project. In fact, Andrew was a semifinalist in the Siemens Competition, and won a first place prize at the state fair last year. Daisy has also competed at the regional and state level in the past, and even qualified for Intel ISEF. Pratik participated in the state fair the past 3 years, recently winning the 60k WPI scholarship award this past year. After a lot of practice conducting research and presenting, they have picked up a number of tips and tricks along the way. All students can agree that competing in a science research competition really helps improve presentation skills, and even gives you confidence. Both Daisy and Pratik believe that you know your project best, and you have to really sell it when presenting. Andrew also finds it helpful to have really good notes throughout the entire research process. In fact, the notebook/documentation that the Massachusetts State fair requires has given him important practice, and finds that tool helpful in all other competitions.

Even as winners of multiple competitions, they can all agree that it isn’t easy. In particular, the students acknowledge that it is always hard to start a project, both in coming up with your project question and also taking the time to get all the necessary background knowledge.

The Science Talent Search competition was a bit different than what most students are used to. The MSEF students all agreed that the STS application process was much more holistic than normal. Besides submitting information about your project and your findings, students were asked about their GPA, extracurriculars, and had to write answers to short answer questions about their project and career goals in addition to recommendation letters. For Andrew, this reminded him of a college application, taking into account many different factors.

The inspiration behind the projects all came from a different place. For Andrew, it came from a combination of his interest in genetics and machine learning that started in the MIT PRIMES program, as well as a Model UN conference in Washington DC where he discussed antimicrobial resistance from a policy perspective. Daisy always had an interest in diseases, and getting access to instruments at Harvard made her project possible. For Pratik, traveling had shown him the state of hospitals in other countries, which inspired him to think about how computer science could be used to improve the efficiency and cost of imaging devices.

The inspiration behind their project helped the students to create the story around their science research project, helping their project stand out against the many other applicants in the competition. The students believe their projects were selected in the Top 300 because of their novelty and their current application. Specifically, Daisy’s non-invasive test for prostate cancer was not only less harmful (no blood drawn), but it was also much more effective. Her new test will help benefit many people.

Making it to the Top 300 in Regeneron STS is a huge accomplishment, and on behalf of MSEF we would like to congratulate these 4 students, as well as all of the other students who applied to STS this fall. Andrew and Pratik are looking to publish their work soon, and Daisy will be present at this year’s science fair before they continue on to college. Congratulations again!

Andrew Zhang, Daisy Wang,
Pratik Bharadwaj and Renny Gong

Here are their project titles:

  • Acton-Boxborough Regional High School Bharadwaj, Pratik, 18, Suppressing Artifacts in CT using an Efficient Denoising Autoencoder
  • Belmont Hill High School Gong, Renny, 19, Differences in Cannabis Perception and Belief Updating between Adults and Adolescents
  • Boston Latin School Wang, Daisy, 17, A Non-Invasive RNA-Based Early Detection Method for Prostate Cancer Using Nanotechnology
  • West Roxbury The Roxbury Latin School Zhang, Andrew, 18, An Explainable Machine Learning Platform for Antimicrobial Resistance Prediction and Resistance Gene Identification



Blog post by: Paige Vincent