North High Rocks Regeneron Science Talent Search

Olivia Yeroushalma and Renee Zbizika named semifinalists of Regeneron Science Talent Search competition.

Seniors Olivia Yeroushalmi and Renee Zbizika were both recently named scholars for the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search Award. The Regeneron Science Talent Search is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors of which only 300 scholars out of an applicant pool of almost 2,000 are chosen as semifinalists and out of those 300, 40 are chosen to become finalists.

Olivia Yeroushalmi and Renee Zbizika (pictured left to right) recently were named semifinalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search competition.
Olivia Yeroushalmi and Renee Zbizika (pictured left to right) recently were named semifinalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search competition. (Credit: Great Neck Public Schools)

Yeroushalmi’s project—“Peripheral Vision Preferences: The Influence of Handedness and Eye Dominance on Peripheral Vision”—looks at how handedness, the preference of one hand over the other” and eye dominance, the preference of one eye over the other, influence one’s peripheral vision abilities. The implications of her project have to do with corrective lenses and fields of sight as she found that there is a statistically significant influence of hand and eye dominance on one’s peripheral vision, so in the future, one could be able to improve his or her peripheral vision. She also found a direct correlation between hand and eye dominance.

Yeroushalmi’s project touched upon the relationship between peripheral vision and hand dominance (Credit: Progress Software).

Throughout her project, Yeroushalmi had to overcome many hardships due to COVID and the difficulties that it caused in finding a mentor to conduct research with.

“From my experience, there was a definite difference because all seniors would go into formal laboratories and universities to conduct their research…but this year, a significant number of students participated in science research through the school [in part due to COVID]…with our wonderful mentors,” said Yeroushalmi. “I conducted research this summer through a formal institution, but it was private research…I had to create a new project entirely [for Regeneron]. It was very nice…being able to have both experiences [in school and private research].”

“The end goal [of science research] is to learn the process of research, and I certainly think [Yeroushalmi and Zbizika] as well as all the seniors who participated in our senior research program,” said Mrs. York, the science department chairperson. “Congratulations [to the both of them]…it’s wonderful for our students to be recognized for their achievements.”

Zbizika’s project—“Aerosol Optical Depth Estimation Using a Deep Neural Network: Assessing the Potential of Using Meteorological Data and Biomass Burning Event Data” attempts to predict the amount of aerosols in the Arctic with a deep neural network that uses temperature and wildfire data to predict aerosol density as an alternative to inaccurate satellites.

Arctic sea ice
Arctic sea ice melting as a result of a multitude of factors including aerosols. (Credit: Geoscience Daily)

“I was first excited [when I got the award],” said Zbizika. “Most of my project was independent. The lab that I worked at had an initiative to help sort out data in the Arctic, which was the inspiration for my project. However, all the conceptualization and building out the code was all me. I had to see a way to apply machine learning to the problem presented to me [of sorting Arctic data].”

Overall, the entire science department was elated with the news of Regeneron semifinalists. Mr. Bambino said, “I think it’s even more impressive [that during COVID] the teachers were able to help their students and put quality projects out.”

“They’re great,” said Mr. Schorn, the head of research at North High, with no further comment.

Congratulations to Yeroushalmi and Zbizika on their achievements. Altogether, the North High research and science program has proven itself to be a very impressive part of North High.