Jake Pappo ‘20 and Renny Gong ‘20 Named Regeneron STS Scholars

Advanced Science Research (ASR) students Jake Pappo ‘20 and Renny Gong ‘20 were named 2020 Regeneron STS Scholars on January 8th. The Regeneron Science Talent Search is, according to their website, “the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors”. Out of a pool of 1,993 applicants, a mere 300 scholars were chosen to receive the cash prize of $2,000 and to advance as semifinalists in the competition.

Jake Pappo works as a research intern at The Carter Lab at Mass General Hospital. His project focuses on the development of real-time diagnosis of glioma, a malignant form of brain cancer, utilizing the fluorescence of molecular beacons. His research report, titled Molecular Beacon-based Real-time Diagnostic for Glioma”, not only detailed his findings and efforts to create a new, safer way to diagnose cancer, but also accompanied a series of essays on his experience working as a high school student in a professional hospital environment. “I am very grateful and humbled after hearing that my work received recognition from such a prestigious competition,” Pappo remarked, “especially given all the amazing research submitted by high school students across the nation.” Pappo will be continuing his work in the Carter Lab throughout his senior year before departing in May.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Gabrieli Lab, Renny Gong has spent the past two years researching the human brain and its behavior. The project submitted to the Regeneron STS, titled “Differences in Cannabis Perception and Belief Updating Between Adults and Adolescents,” was a self-designed survey that sought to analyze optimism bias in relation to cannabis usage. With responses from all across the nation, Gong’s findings may challenge his field’s traditionally held views on belief updating.

We have been lucky to have seven STS Scholars from Belmont Hill in as many years, which is quite remarkable,” relayed Mr. Courtney, the founder and director of the ASR program.  After selecting a cohort of the highest-performing science students in the sophomore grade each year, Courtney guides his students as they work at an array of professional labs in greater Boston and oversees their progress through the arduous Regeneron application.  The program fosters the scientific skills of promising STEM students while providing them with valuable insight into the world of professional research. Congratulations to Renny, Jake, Mr. Courtney for their Regeneron success. The community will have the chance to learn more about the various ASR projects at the late-spring ASR poster defense. 


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