Kennedy Students Named Regeneron Science Talent Search Finalists

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Two Kennedy High School seniors in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District are among only four Long Island students named Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists on Jan. 21. This marks the first time in school history that Kennedy has had two finalists in the same year.

Andrew Brinton and Katherine St George were among 40 national finalists selected from 1,993 highly qualified entrants based on their projects’ scientific rigor and their potential to become world-changing scientists and leaders. 

The finalists were among 36 high school seniors from 20 Long Island districts named scholars in the first round on Jan. 8, which also included Kennedy’s Kenar Gelman. However, this marks the first time in school history that Kennedy has had two finalists.

Brinton’s project is “Marsh Restoration: Ribbed Mussels (Geukensia demissa) as a Revival Mechanism to Rebuild the Coastal Salt Marshes of Long Island, New York.” 

“I enrolled in Advanced Science Research as a freshman not entirely knowing what I was getting into,” said Brinton. “Now that I’ve gone through every bump in the road and have still produced a research project from scratch that I am truly proud of, I have a different take on what it means to be in ASR.” 

All 12 seniors in the school’s program completed graduate level research by the end of high school.

“These kids gave up parts of their summers and school years, all with a specific problem they had in mind to solve,” he added. “For me, that was damage caused by hurricanes. Accolades and what people outside of the program see is a lot different than what goes on in it; completing my own research was daunting, but seeing others around me pouring their hearts and souls into research, and even be published, is inspiring.”

St George, the school’s valedictorian, titled her project “The Ketogenic Diet Ameliorates The Effects of Caffeine in Seizure Susceptible Drosophila melanogaster.” She joined ASR for the opportunity to get real lab experience while still in high school. St George was also attracted to the program because students are able to choose their own topics.

“I was initially interested in influenza, and while reading about it I found that people with epilepsy are particularly vulnerable during flu outbreaks,” explained St George. “I began to read more about epilepsy, and was so intrigued by the nutritional therapies for the disorder such as the ketogenic diet. I decided to investigate the impact on seizure susceptibility if an organism is exposed to caffeine while on the ketogenic diet.”

Both students are advised under ASR teacher, Barbi Frank.

“Mrs. Frank has done so much for me, from encouraging me through the rough patches of the research process, to spending hours going through my paper with me,” added St George.

Each finalist is awarded at least $25,000, and the top 10 awards range from $40,000 to $250,000. The top 10 Regeneron Science Talent Search 2020 awards will be announced at a black-tie gala awards ceremony at the National Building Museum on March 10.