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Four SBU Faculty Mentored Three Regeneron Science Competition Scholars

Regeneron mentors 2022
SBU faculty mentors clockwise from top left: Dianna Padilla, Troy Rasbury, William Holt and Ji Liu.

Four Stony Brook University faculty members mentored three of the finalists in the 2022 Regeneron Science Talent Search (Regeneron STS) competition, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.

The three students are among 40 finalists who were selected from a group of 300 semifinalists, 11 of whom were mentored by 10 different SBU faculty. The finalists were chosen based on their projects’ scientific rigor and their potential to become world-changing scientists and leaders.

The finalists will compete for more than $1.8 million in awards during a week-long competition taking place March 10-16 in Washington, D.C. Each finalist is awarded at least $25,000, and the top 10 awards range from $40,000 to $250,000. The finalists had already received $2,000 each for their schools by being named semifinalists.

Professor William Holt and Associate Professor Troy Rasbury of the Department of Geosciences in the College of Arts and Sciences mentored Yash Naryan from The Nuevo School in San Mateo, California on “DeepWaste: Applying Deep Learning on a Mobile Device for Accurate, Low Cost, and Ubiquitous Waste Classification.” DeepWaste is an easy-to-use mobile app that utilizes artificial intelligence techniques to provide accurate waste classification at the point of disposal. Naryan found that DeepWaste outperformed human waste classification accuracy by nearly 50 percent, suggesting potential to reduce human errors.

Ji Liu, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, mentored Ben Choi from the Potomac School in McLean, Virginia on “An Ultra-Low Cost, Mind-Controlled Transhumeral Prosthesis Operated via a Novel Artificial Intelligence-Driven Brainwave Interpretation Algorithm.” Choi’s bionic arm uses tiny metal electrodes placed on the forehead which pick up electrical brain activity, and an artificial intelligence-based computer program interprets the signals and translates them into arm movement.

Dianna Padilla, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution in the College of Arts and Sciences — along with Stony Brook alumna Rebecca Grella — mentored Roberto Lopez of Brentwood High School in Brentwood, NY, on “Evaluating Phragmites australis Wrack Accumulation in a Long Island Salt Marsh Ecosystem and Assessing Its Effect on Carbon Sequestration, the Nitrogen Cycle, and Sediment Biota.” Roberto’s twin brother Ricardo was also a semifinalist. Lopez did his research at the salt marshes at Sunken Meadow State Park.

This is the first year since 2018 that Stony Brook University faculty have mentored three or more finalists, and the three this year are the first finalists with SBU mentors since 2019. Since 2004, Stony Brook faculty have mentored 54 finalists and 435 semifinalists.

Started in 1942 as the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, the Regeneron STS recognizes and empowers the nation’s most promising young scientists. Each year, nearly 1,900 students enter the competition, submitting original research in critically important scientific fields of study. The Regeneron STS provides students with a national stage to present original research and celebrates the hard work and novel discoveries of young scientists who are bringing a fresh perspective to significant global challenges. 

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