Moving Onward!

By Ellen Amico

The seniors of the Authentic Science Research program can take a sigh of relief after three years of grueling work! They’ve finally submitted to Regeneron! All of the work that students have done for the last three years culminate into one final product: a paper that is submitted to one of the most prestigious programs that rewards students for their independent, authentic research projects. Formerly the Intel Science Talent Search (STS), Regeneron STS allows students to submit their own research projects to a competition in which students can win up to $250,000. Applicants must complete a tedious application that requires multiple essays, test score reports, and numerous short answer questions. Don’t forget, this is all on top of the research paper!
Mrs. Greenwald, the head of the ASR program at BHHS, says the application is “more difficult than any college application.” The students of the ASR program at Byram Hills have been competing in the Regeneron Science Talent Search competition since 1992, when the program began at BHHS. The ASR program has produced many finalists over the years, including three of last year’s seniors who were semifinalists, one of them ultimately a finalist as well!
Students can apply to the ASR program at BHHS as freshmen. If admitted, they will begin their journey sophomore year by selecting any topic that interests them. One of the most crucial tasks for the 10th graders is finding a mentor who will guide them and provide them with the necessary materials to complete their research. These mentors are usually doctors, professors, or researchers in their field. As juniors, students will plan out their studies with the aid of the JVP, or the “Junior Vision Plan.” Studies are completed in the summer before senior year. Many students spend the summer working with their mentors at institutions all over the country, such as Harvard or Yale, or even outside of the country, like England! Finally, each senior is required to submit their research paper to Regeneron in November.
Alex Remnitz, a senior in the program, says the application asks about “what the inspiration for your research was, the struggles you have faced throughout science research and how you have changed as a scientist throughout your time in this program.” Alex studied the impact of predicted near future CO-2 levels on two GABAergic behaviors, behavioral lateralization and scototaxis, in the Sailfin Molly, which more simply, observes the effect of a lower ocean pH on the behavior of fish. Alex says that the most challenging part of submitting was her manuscript. “I wanted to make sure that it was perfect and that I had everything explained succinctly, and in an understandable way,” she explains. As you can tell by the title of her study, it can be hard to explain an esoteric subject in a way that makes it accessible to all readers. Students must find a way to present their information that allows judges from diverse backgrounds to comprehend it. Additionally, condensing all the research and information one has learned throughout three years into one 15-page paper can be quite difficult. In Alex’s case, there were 97 citations in her paper, which is just one example of the depth of research students conduct. In addition to completing the application itself, balancing this paper with the rest of senior year can be quite demanding. “It was very difficult at times to balance this heavy coursework with applying to colleges and other work,” says Lily Moss, another senior in ASR. In order to finish it all, she worked on college applications during the summer once her research was complete.
Although the process is difficult, submitting to Regeneron is very rewarding. “I feel as equally as proud as I was the year before. It never gets old to me. This project they work on for three years really exemplifies how students grow,” says Mrs. Greenwald. It’s clear the seniors feel the same. “I feel extremely accomplished after submitting. This three-year journey was very stressful at times to say the least, and finally being able to say that I submitted my research is extremely rewarding,” says Lily. All ASR students look forward to submitting to Regeneron since they’ve been working toward this goal since joining the program during sophomore year. Although hitting the submit button isn’t as climatic as mailing it in, which students did in the past, the seniors capture the excitement and thrill of submitting by creating videos that capture completing the final step of their science research journey. So, to all the hard-working ASR seniors, congratulations! Best of luck to all in Regeneron!