District News

Byram Hills Science Research Program Enjoys a Banner Year with Broad Success

The Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program is having an incredibly successful year, highlighted by senior Brent Perlman’s seventh-place win at the highly renowned Regeneron Science Talent Search.

Brent Perlman

Brent Perlman

Brent, whose biological engineering research involved inducing photosynthesis in human stem cells, won a $70,000 prize at the competition’s annual gala in Washington on March 12. He was one of 10 students to win top awards in the highly prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.

Brent’s research involved designing a process to induce photosynthesis in human cells for the first time, which could have applications in the treatment of heart attack, stroke and cancer. He achieved this accomplishment by isolating chloroplasts, the photosynthetic components of plant cells, from baby spinach leaves, and culturing them with human cells.

Brent said he was honored to receive the award, and said he planned to put his prize money toward his biological education and research. “With this award, my dream of one day creating impactful chloroplast therapies comes one step closer to reality,” he said.

In the three decades that Byram Hills has competed in the Science Talent Search, the only other student to finish in the top 10 was Jayne Wolfson, who won sixth place in 2004. In the same time span, Byram Hills has had 20 finalists, including Brent

“He is a daring, determined scientist who has been an inspiration to everyone in the program and a constant reminder of the power of combining creativity with curiosity,” said Stephanie Greenwald, Director of the Authentic Science Research Program. “His success is shared by the entire program and the whole school community.”

Shortly after the Regeneron competition, the science research students were off to the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair at Sleepy Hollow High School, where they won a record-breaking number of awards on March 16.

Those successes, along with other honors won by science research students, have combined to make this year a great one for the 27 seniors in the research program.

The three-year program, in which students conduct original, high-level research, has an open-enrollment policy, which means students do not have to be taking honors science classes to participate. Students of all academic backgrounds have found success during this year’s science competitions, making the season highly rewarding.

“It has been a banner year for the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program,” Mrs. Greenwald said.

2019 Authentic Science Research Class

The seniors in the Authentic Science Research Program this year.

“Our senior class this year represents a wide range of students from across the school community, each having taken a unique path to reach their goals,” she said. “Their successes continue to demonstrate that perseverance and curiosity can lead to meaningful work that receives widespread recognition.”

Twenty-three seniors won 32 awards at the Westchester science fair known as WESEF.

Renner Kwitten

The seniors in the Authentic Science Research Program this year.

Brent, Samantha Abbruzzese and Renner Kwittken were among the students who had the top 12 overall individual scoring projects at the fair. With this distinction, they secured spots at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona in May.

The three will spend a week there competing against top student science researchers from around the world at the event known as ISEF. “We are very proud of our ISEF finalists,” Mrs. Greenwald said.

Joshua Freedman

Joshua Freedman

On March 27 and 28, seven seniors presented their research at the Upstate New York Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Albany, with Joshua Freedman winning first place and a $2,000 scholarship and Renner Kwittken coming in fourth in the speaker presentations. Emma Lucchino won third place as a poster presenter. Joshua and Renner advanced to compete in the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in late April. The seniors in the Authentic