District News

Four Byram Hills Seniors Named Top Scholars in Regeneron Science Competition

Four Byram Hills High School seniors have been selected as top scholars in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search, an honor that recognizes their independent research conducted in the school’s Authentic Science Research Program.

Derek Araki-Kurdyla, Edith Bachmann, Sydney Levy and Emily PizzorussoFour Byram Hills High School seniors have been selected as top scholars in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search, an honor that recognizes their independent research conducted in the school’s Authentic Science Research Program.

The students, Derek Araki-Kurdyla, Edith Bachmann, Sydney Levy and Emily Pizzorusso, are among the 300 top scholars chosen from about 1,800 students at 603 high schools in the United States and abroad. The students won $2,000 each and advanced to the next round of the science and math competition. Byram Hills High School will receive $8,000 for STEM-related work.

“We are so very proud of these four students,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Byram Hills science research program. “They have conducted exemplary research, overcome obstacles and produced outstanding work.”

“These students represent our 41 incredibly talented seniors who have done tremendous research that will have a great impact on our world,” she added.

The Society for Science, which has run the competition since 1942, said the scholars were chosen for “their exceptional research skills, commitment to academics, innovative thinking and promise as scientists.” The students’ original work was judged by leading experts in their fields.

Byram Hills High School Principal Christopher Walsh congratulated the students.

“I am so happy for these students and the entire Authentic Science Research Program,” he said. “These individual achievements are supported by an amazing program, department, school, district and community. It's a great day to be a Bobcat!  

On Jan. 20, 40 of the 300 scholars will be named finalists, who will compete for more than $1.8 million in prizes at a weeklong competition in March. The top award is $250,000.

The competition aims to identify, inspire and engage promising young scientists who are working to solve the world’s most urgent problems. Alumni of the program have won the most prestigious math and science honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes, 11 National Medals of Science, 22 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and two Fields Medals.

A closer look at the work of the Byram Hills scholars:

Derek Araki-Kurdyla: Through a field study, Derek explored the characteristics of the coastline soil where seagrass grows to identify the optimal environments for reducing carbon dioxide in the ocean. Identifying natural ways to reduce ocean CO2 is essential as high levels are detrimental to ocean ecosystems.

Edith Bachmann: Edith investigated working memory and the sustained attention of fourth grade students. For her study, she compared students who practiced storytelling, the act of retelling a story from memory while maintaining eye contact, and students who practiced story reading, or reading from a book and showing the pictures as visual aids. Her online experiment, which she created and conducted, provided worthwhile data confirming the need for both storytelling and story reading as part of a child's development.

Sydney Levy: Sydney studied mitral valve prolapse, a heart valve disease. Through a lab investigation and sequencing data analysis, she explored the condition’s relationship with scar tissue formation in the human heart. Her identification of an important cellular pathway could lead to therapies for preventing the scarring that results from the condition.

Emily Pizzorusso: Emily explored sex differences relating to synesthesia, a neurological condition in which the senses become intertwined, like for example, seeing colors when hearing music. Her research sheds light on this critically understudied condition.