Two GHS science students finalists in Regeneron Talent Search

Photo of Emilie Munson

GREENWICH — Two Greenwich High students were selected as finalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, a national pre-college science competition.

Seniors Ethan Novek and Derek Woo will travel to Washington, D.C., to display their research to the public, meet with notable scientists and compete for $1.8 million in awards, including the top award of a $250,000 scholarship.

They are among 40 students from around the country chosen for the honor.

Novek and Woo already won $2,000 each when they were recognized as Regeneron scholars earlier this month.

“This, to coin a phrase, is HUGE, as we have had only two finalists in the past 10 years,” said Andrew Bramante, who teaches the GHS independent science research course the students take. “The level of competition and complexity of research at this level is at the cutting edge of science; as such, this accomplishment is without equal.”

The Regeneron competition, formerly known as the Intel Science Talent Search, is a competition for high school seniors who have completed an independent science research project prior to the fall of their senior year. Applicants submit their academic records, essays, recommendations from teachers and mentors and a 20-page research paper on their science project.

Novek was recognized for “Low-Temperature Carbon Capture Using Aqueous Ammonia and Organic Solvents.” His invention can scrub carbon-dioxide as it is leaving the chimney of a power plant and convert it to high purity carbon dioxide for reuse, while simultaneously increasing the electricity-production efficiency of the power plant. Novek’s invention has been patented and published in a leading peer-reviewed journal. He was also chosen as a semi-finalist in the 2017 Carbon XPrize competition for the invention.

Woo was recognized for “Battling Honey Bee CCD via Reduction of Neonicotinoid Content in Guttation Droplets using Biochar Soil Additives.” His research showed that pesticides in the soil migrate through the corn plant and become concentrated droplets on the tip of the plant leaves. The droplets contain a more than lethal dose of pesticide that either kill the bee outright or, in less toxic doses, can disorient the honey bee so it is unable to return to the hive.

Caitlin Sullivan, the director of Outreach and Equity Programs with the Society for Science and the Public, who helps coordinate the Regeneron Science Talent Search, said the judges "are looking for passionate individuals who are exceptional scientists. All of the scholars are students that are well-prepared for a future in science."

On Jan. 6., six GHS students were chosen as Regeneron scholars. In addition to Woo and Novek, seniors Olivia Hallisey, Sanju Sathish, Devyn Zaminski and Madeleine Zhou were among the 300 students honored by Regeneron, chosen from more than 1,800 applicants from around the country and from American schools abroad.

They were each awarded $2,000 in prize money from Regeneron. Greenwich High School also received $2,000 for each scholar. Bramante said he appreciates that the winnings are funneled back into his science program.

Over the past 10 years, 18 Greenwich High students have been selected as scholars in the science competition. Two GHS students have been chosen as finalists in the competition.

emunson@greenwichtime.com; @emiliemunson