South’s Regeneron Science Competition Scholars of 2018

By Annie Zhang

On Jan. 9, 300 students among 1818 applicants were named scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search Competition, a national high school science and math competition. According to Regeneron STS, “This [scholar] designation is evidence of significant scientific creativity and scholastic aptitude.” Among the scholars are four South seniors—Daniel Kim, Eric Kuang, Cindy Wang, and Michelle Xing. The applicants submitted multiple essays as well as a research report detailing their summer science research project. Each scholar also received a $2000 award and a $2000 scholarship for college. Of the 300 scholars, 40 finalists were announced on Jan. 23 and given the opportunity to compete in Washington, D.C. in March. Previous Science Talent Search scholars have continued in the STEM fields to receive Nobel Prizes, National Medals of Science and MacArthur Foundation Fellowships.

Cindy Wang

Title: Observation of the Chiral Magnetic Effect in the Quark-Gluon Plasma Produced in Au+Au Collision Produced in the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider

Project: “This summer I worked at Stony Brook University in the area of high energy particle physics. It is believed that microseconds after the Big Bang, our Universe was made up of extremely hot and dense de-confined matter, known as the Quark-Gluon Plasma. I studied uncharted properties of the Quark-Gluon Plasma using particle data from the STAR Detector at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Using data analysis programs that I wrote in C++, I measured the Chiral Magnetic Effect in the QGP, a phenomenon that had previously only been postulated by theory.”

Quote to live by: “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” -William Faulkner

Hobby: “Hanging out with my dog, @buttonthecav on Instagram.”

Michelle Xing

Title: Direct Functionalization of Algal Nanocellulose to Enhance Biosorption for Lead(II) Remediation

Project: “This past summer at Stony Brook University, I isolated nanofibers from Chaetomorpha algae, cheap and abundant, for lead(II) remediation. I functionalized the surface of these nanofibers with negatively charged carboxyl groups, which attracted a greater amount of positively charged lead(II) ions. Thus, my study demonstrates that algal nanofibers have a promising application to lead contamination in the world and a positive impact on how we view water security on Earth.”

Quote to live by: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” -Rumi

Hobby: “Playing the bassoon. It’s taught me more than discipline and has given me a means of self-expression, much like conducting research.”

Eric Kuang

Title: Markov Chain Monte Carlo Testing of Cosmological Constant and the Limits of Cosmography with the Union2.1 Supernova Compilation

Project: “This summer, I worked in a lab at Hofstra University to study dark energy. Dark energy is an exotic energy component hypothesized to constantly accelerate the current cosmic expansion. I used programs I wrote in Java and Wolfram Mathematica to run simulations that gives indication about the dynamics of the universe.”

Quote to live by: “We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.” – Alan Turing

Hobby: “Golf. It’s like research. You just begin. And you solve one problem…and you solve the next one….and then the next.”

Daniel Kim

Title: Quantifying the Affinity of Mutated scFv’s in Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells for GD2-Targeted Treatment of Neuroblastoma.

Project: “My project involved a method used to enhance T cells, which are immune cells that work to kill germs, to make them more specifically target a particular disease, in this case neuroblastoma. My project took this method a step further by replacing a protein with one that would make these T cells even more effective.”

Quote to live by: “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” – Lou Holtz

Hobby: “I’m an aspiring dancer.”