Six Kennedy Students Named Regeneron Scholars

2022 regeneron scholars group photo thumbnail209213
2022 regeneron scholars group photo thumbnail209214
2022 regeneron scholars group photo thumbnail209215
Six students from the Central High School District were named Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholars on Jan. 6.

Kennedy High School seniors Michelle Brown, Brandon Lin, Christopher Luisi, Christopher Prainito, Desiree Rigaud and Shannon Su are among 300 scholars selected from 1,804 applicants. Since 2004, there have been 62 research semifinalists/scholars at Kennedy. Last year, five students received this distinction.

“When we learned that six students were recognized today, the feeling of school pride was just overwhelming. When it comes to college readiness, the research conducted by these students may be one of the most meaningful learning experiences of their high school careers.”

“Their projects included hundreds of hours of laboratory and field work; the findings are novel and relevant to many challenges our society is facing today in the fields of medicine, psychology and epidemiology,” explained Science Chairperson Robert Soel. “They all completed extensive research investigations and impressive scientific essays in their Regeneron applications.”

Brown’s project is, “The Concurrent Effects of Metformin and Dietary Restriction on Parkinson’s Disease in a Drosophila melanogaster Model.” Lin’s project is, “A Novel Approach to Examine the Effect of Dietary Restriction and Exercise on Aging Drosophila melanogaster Involving Custom-Built 3D Printed Equipment.” Luisi’s project is, “How Dietary Restriction Affects the Athleticism, Metabolic Rate, and Lifespan of Drosophila melanogaster.” Prainito’s project is, “Development of a Polydiacetylene-Based Paper Biosensor for Naked-Eye Detection of COVID-19 in Saliva.” Rigaud’s project is, “COVID-19 Induced Economic Stress: The Effect on Marital Functioning and Methods of Alleviating Financial Stress.” Su’s project is, “The Combined Effect of HIF-1a Inhibition with Azacitidine and Venetoclax in Acute Myeloid Leukemia.”

In total, 12 students from the school’s advanced science research program submitted projects. Su’s mentor throughout the three-year process was ASR teacher Orquidea Afonso-Ancieto, while ASR teacher Barbi Frank served as a mentor to Brown, Lin, Luisi, Prainito and Rigaud.

“They have inspired, guided and mentored our research students for three years while on remote learning, hybrid, and in-person instruction,” added Soel.

"We could not be prouder of our advanced science research program and all the students who want to take on the challenge of creating original research during their high school years,” added Superintendent Michael Harrington. “A program like the one that exists in our district does not happen without some very special educators. We are in awe of the six students named semifinalists and their projects."

These scholars represent 185 American and International high schools in 37 states and three countries, including three homeschools. Each student will be awarded $2,000 while an additional $2,000 will go to the school to support its science program. On Jan. 20, 40 of the scholars will be named finalists, competing for more than $1.8 million in awards March 10-16.

The Regeneron Science Talent Search is hosted by the Society for Science, a program of Society for Science since 1942, is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. Each year, nearly 2,000 student entrants submit original research in critically important scientific fields of study and are judged by leading experts in their fields.