Andy Xu ’19, Justin Chang ’19, and Kevin Hou ’19 Recognized as Regeneron Science Talent Search Semi-Finalists

Andy Xu ’19, Justin Chang ’19, and Kevin Hou ’19 were selected as semi-finalists of the Regeneron Science Talent Search (Regeneron S.T.S.) on January 9 and officially received their certificates as S.T.S. Scholars this past week.

Regeneron S.T.S. is one of the most esteemed math and science research competitions in the nation, according to its website. Each student received a 2,000 dollar award with an additional 2,000 dollars going to his or her respective school.

In order to apply, students submit a research paper in a diversity of STEM fields—Chang researched a field in biology, Xu researched dynamic networks, and Hou looked into graph theory and tessellations. The judges then narrow down the pool of almost 2,000 entrants to about 300 semi-finalists, from which 40 finalists are selected and flown to Washington D.C.

Karin Knudson, Instructor and Chair in Mathematics, Statistics, & Computer Science, wrote recommendations for both Xu and Chang, and she is excited about how far they have come.

“The Regeneron Science Talent Search is a very prestigious science competition for high school students. Alumni of the program have gone on to have impressive careers in science, math, and engineering. The heart of the Regeneron STS is the student’s research report, which represents a student’s own independent research. This kind of independent research represents a significant project done over a substantial period of time,” wrote Knudson in an email to The Phillipian.

Chang’s research focused on the insulin pathway and its connection to diabetes, a topic he was inspired to look further into after a summer internship opportunity. Specifically, he zoomed in on the Ras Homolog Enriched in Brain (R.H.E.B.) complex.

“The insulin pathway is everything related to diabetes, and if anything goes wrong there, you can see various changes. You might get deafness, blindness, or you’ll get diabetes…That pathway was of a lot of interest to me, so I investigated one of the complexes along that pathway, [R.H.E.B.]…I found that another molecule, which is called wolframin, binds to R.H.E.B., and that gives a new link to what wolframin does in the cell and the insulin pathway,” said Chang.

Xu’s research, on the other hand, involved dynamic networks and automated pattern extraction from those networks, a field of study with applications to social network analysis on platforms like Facebook.

“My research dealt with developing a new method for exploratory analysis, which basically helps put a human back into data analysis. There’s only so much we, as humans, can glean from just numbers and tables, and explore some stuff that will allow our human pattern recognition to supplement our computer computational power.”

Xu was originally introduced to Regeneron S.T.S. by peers, and he thought the competition would provide a good opportunity for him to showcase his abilities as a scientist.

“Regeneron S.T.S. is a unconventional style of competition that sort of blends research accomplishment in science and technology with a lot of other factors because it isn’t strictly a research competition… it takes into account a lot of different achievements as well as originality of research,” said Xu.

According to Knudson, she feels incredibly proud of Xu, Chang, and Hou for their intellectual curiosity and scientific scholarship.

Knudson wrote, “It is just tremendous that [Andover] has three students among the semifinalists. I can’t wait to see what Andy, Justin, and Kevin do next in science and mathematics. These three Seniors are students who are leaders in math and science here at Andover, and I know their excellent work will inspire the students who come after them as well.”