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Student Named Regeneron Finalist

January 24, 2017
Byram Hills High School senior Audrey Saltzman has been named one of 40 finalists across the country in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search for her studies of a neutron star 19,000 light-years from Earth, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and the Society for Science & the Public announced today.

With the honor, Saltzman receives an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. for the final round of the competition, where the young scholars will vie for a top prize of $250,000. Audrey, who received a call that she had been chosen in the middle of a clarinet lesson Monday afternoon, said she appreciated the honor.

“I was speechless when I found out,” she said. “All I could come up with to say was ‘thank you,’ so I said that about twelve times.”

David Keith, the director of the Authentic Science Research Program at Byram Hills High School, praised Audrey for the distinction. He lauded the determination she showed in pursuing her research under the guidance of a mentor, Dr. Jon M. Miller of the University of Michigan Department of Astronomy.

“Audrey’s tenacity is extraordinary,” Mr. Keith said. “With incredible aplomb, she tackled problem after problem given to her by her mentor. It was marvelous to watch.”

Audrey and two of her Byram Hills classmates – Yasamin Bayley and Isabelle Chong – were among the 300 semifinalists chosen in the contest from across the country early this month. Bayley’s project showed how the production of calcite in a species of marine plant was affected by climate change, while Isabelle created a “laser cane” that can help blind people detect objects around them.

Audrey chose her project because she had long been fascinated by neutron stars – the remnants of dead stars – which she describes as “among the most extreme things in the universe.” She awoke at 7 a.m. daily last summer to complete the project, which included using X-ray and ultraviolet data from NASA to study the celestial object that had “gone into outburst” in 2012. She made progress toward determining its radius and also examined the source of ultraviolet light that came from a phenomenon known as “reprocessing.”

Space is where “our understanding of physics is tested to its limits,” she said, noting that such research provided support for the theory of relativity, as one example.

“There’s a lot that we can learn about our world from studying space,” she said.

The semifinalists each received $2,000 for that round, and the school received $6,000 total. But their selection brought more than prize money. It also brought attention to the school’s Authentic Science Research Program when the students were visited recently by officials from Regeneron and Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino.

At the final round in Washington in March, Audrey and the 39 other contestants will display their projects and meet with noted scientists. Alumni of the program hold more than 100 of the world's most coveted science and math honors, including the Nobel Price and National Medal of Science, according to the Society for Science & the Public.

Mr. Keith said making it to the final round sets a good example for all. “It’s an important honor because it raises the bar of achievement for everyone just knowing that that standard exists,” he said. 


Three Byram Hills Students Among 20 Westchester Science Talent Research Scholars

January 9, 2017
Three Byram Hills High School students are among 300 high school seniors across the nation selected as Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholars (STS).

Yasamin Sophia Bayley’s research is a comparative study of responses of Coccolithophores’ growth rates and calcification to various light intensities.

Isabelle Chong has studied the use of an Inertial Navigation System and a laser range finder to create a novel electronic navigational aid for the blind.

Audrey Saltzman’s research is an investigation of low-mass X-ray Binary 1RXS.

The scholars were selected on the basis of their exceptional promise as scientists, excellent record of academic achievement and outstanding recommendations from teachers and other scientists.

The Regeneron STS scholars, previously called semifinalists, were selected from 1,749 applicants hailing from 527 high schools in 46 states and seven American and international high schools overseas.

Regeneron, a leading science and technology company delivering life-transforming medicines for serious diseases, is the new sponsor of the Science Talent Search, following previous sponsors Westinghouse and Intel. Founded by Science Talent Search alumni and deeply committed to STEM education, Regeneron recognizes and prioritizes the need to support young scientists who are generating ideas and solutions to address global challenges.

As part of its 10-year, $100 million commitment, Regeneron has significantly increased monetary awards to better recognize the best and brightest young talent and energize the next generation of groundbreaking minds. Regeneron has nearly doubled the overall award distribution to $3.1 million annually, increased the top award to $250,000, and doubled the awards for the top 300 young scholars and their schools to $2,000 each to inspire more young people to engage in science.

On Jan. 24, 40 of the top 300 scholars will be named Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists. Finalists receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. from March 9 to 15, where they will compete for more than $1.8 million in awards provided by Regeneron.

The Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists are engaged in cutting-edge scientific research that addresses some of our world's most urgent challenges. While in Washington, D.C., the finalists will undergo a rigorous judging process, interact with leading scientists, display their research for the public at the National Geographic Society and meet with national leaders. Winners will be announced at a black-tie, invitation-only gala award ceremony at the National Building Museum on March 14.

The Regeneron Science Talent Search, founded and produced by Society for Science & the Public, is the nation's oldest and most prestigious pre-college science and math competition. It recognizes and empowers the most promising young scientists in the U.S. who are creating the ideas and solutions that will address our world's most urgent challenges.

Science Talent Search alumni have gone on to receive more than 100 of the world's most esteemed science and math honors, including 12 Nobel Prizes, 11 National Medals of Science, two Fields Medals, 18 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and four Breakthrough Prizes.

Guided by the belief that advances in science and engineering are key to solving global challenges, Society for Science & the Public founded the Science Talent Search in 1942, providing a national stage for the country's best and brightest young scientists to present original research to nationally recognized professional scientists.


List of Scholars


27th Annual Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Symposium
By Jackson Harrower

June 9, 2016
On Wednesday June 1 Byram Hills hosted the 27th Annual Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Symposium. The 39 graduating seniors were honored for their devotion to Science Research and their exceptional problem solving skills. Mr. Borsari thanked the support of all the teachers, mentors and parents “without whom the program would not be possible.”

Keynote Speaker and Class of 2008 member Jeremy Blum delivered an address on the power of creativity and innovation. He formerly worked as an electrical engineer at Google X and is now part of a handheld robotics startup. He praised the students for their curiosity, which will drive them in their education and work for many years to come: “It’s not the things in your research that you’ve already done that will inspire you the most. It’s the things you haven’t done yet: the things you’ve only gotten your first taste of that will tell you where to go next.” His four key phrases of advice were, “Obey the law of diminishing returns: realize all your resources inside and outside the classroom. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission: don’t be afraid to go beyond bureaucracy. Be a jack of many trades, and a master of one: become an expert at something you love, but also be a well rounded person. Beware of imposter syndrome: you deserve all that you’ve achieved.” He concluded by reiterating his confidence in the class of 2016: “I have immense faith in all the students graduating tonight, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.”

After Blum’s speech a video was shown of the seniors submitting their applications to the Intel Science Talent Search contest, drawing laughs from the entire auditorium. Senior Alex Mautner spoke on behalf of the senior class. She defined science research using the Ray Bradbury quote, “Love what you do and do what you love.” She reminded the audience that this is easier said than done, but nonetheless it is a powerful message to drive innovation. In her research, Mautner focused on the topic of transformative learning within the setting of an all girls summer camp. Transformative learning is “The development of revised assumptions or perceptions on the world and means of critical reflection,” or in lay terms, “deep personal change.” Science research was as much a transformative experience for Mautner as camp life was for the girls she studied. She notes, “Today I have no fear of making a phone call to an experienced professional or speaking at a large symposium.” She then asked her fellow seniors to raise their hands if any of them had a transformative experience during their time in the program. All 39 hands shot up.

Awards were given out to a select few members of the class. The Abe Shahim Award for “the most pure researcher” was given to Sarah Crucilla. The Dr. Robert Pavlica Award was presented to Kevin Chang. The first ever Scientific Prose Award was given to Alex Wurm. Micah Jeng received the Award for Excellence in Science Research.

The auditorium session concluded with the seniors coming up to receive their Science Research diplomas as time capsule quotes from their freshman selves, their freshman photos, and their official research topics were displayed on the projector screen. This segment was full of laughs, “awws,” and applause. After the auditorium session, the seniors presented their projects in assigned classrooms as the juniors showcased their works in progress in the cafeteria.

Byram Hills Science Research 2016

May 25, 2016
Byram Hills High School in Armonk, NY will be hosting the 27th annual Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Symposium on Wednesday June 1. The Authentic Science Research Program allows students to pursue excellence in areas of original research.  This year’s symposium, titled “Bright Minds, Bright Ideas, Bright Futures” showcases research from 110 students in the program. The symposium highlights the 39 senior projects, including a poster session where all students’ projects will be on display. A keynote address will be delivered by Jeremy Blum, a 2008 graduate of the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program.

The symposium begins at 7:00 p.m. at Byram Hills High School, 12 Tripp Lane, Armonk.  There is no fee to attend and proper attire is requested. All are welcome to join in the celebration of the Authentic Science Research. For more information on the Science Research Program, please visit: http://www.byramhills.org/curriculum.cfm?subpage=468.



Byram Hills Among Nation's Top Three High Schools

February 17, 2016
The Science Research program has been a prominent part of Byram Hills High School's curriculum for many decades, first spearheaded by the late Dr. Robert Pavlica in 1989.

This class prepares students to study scientific research which they present at many opportunities including the Science Talent Search, a national affair. Intel took over the Science Talent Search (Intel STS) in 1998.

Byram Hills has performed exceptionally well since that time. In these past eighteen years, Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research has produced the third most finalists in the country, with 15. The only schools who have had more finalists are Montgomery Blair High School, located in Silver Spring, Maryland, with 34 finalists, and Stuyvesant High School located in New York, New York, with 22 finalists.

This year, Byram Hills had five semifinalists among the 300 selected from 1,750 entrants nationwide. They were Sela Berenblum, Kevin Chang, Dominick Rowan, Lyndsay Siegle and Sarah Tang. None of those Byram Hills students were finalists among this year's 40 high school science research Intel STS finalists.  

But when it comes to semi-finalists --since 1999-- Byram Hills ranks seventh with 83 semi-finalists. The other schools with more consecutive year semi-finalists are Montgomery Blair High School which has the most with 192; Stuyvesant High School has 183 semi-finalists; Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology has 156; Bronx Science has 137; Ward Melville High School has 131 semi-finalists; and Paul D. Schreiber has 84.

Since 1999, Byram Hills has never gone a year without producing at least one Intel STS semifinalist. It is only one of ten schools that can make that claim.

Byram Hills Intel STS

Byram Hills Students' Stellar Science Research Accomplishments

January 7, 2016
Five Byram Hills seniors were named semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS). The community congratulates Sela Berenblum, Kevin Chang, Dominick Rowan, Lyndsay Siegle and Sarah Tang on their accomplishments. They are among 300 high school seniors selected yesterday as Intel STS semifinalists from 1,750 entrants nationwide.

The Intel STS is a program of the Society for Science & the Public which is the nation’s most prestigious pre-college science competition.

"These five Byram Hills students represent the breadth and depth of intellectual capacity that young people can achieve within a supportive community and with proper mentoring,” said David Keith, who directs the Byram Hills science research program. “They are a part of an impressive senior research class that has produced diverse projects in such areas as interstellar discovery, aeronautic design, and traumatic brain injury assessment.” 

These semifinalists high school students are enrolled Byram Hills Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research’s three-year professional-level program. Along with the educational and research support provided by Byram Hills teachers, the semifinalists worked with mentors who are professionals in their field of study: Berenblum’s mentor is Dr. Denton Hoyer, Yale University; Chang’s mentor is Dr. Samuel G. Katz, Yale University; Rowen’s mentor is Dr. Stefano Meschiari, University of Texas at Austin; Siegle’s mentor is Dr. Lindon Eaves, Virginia Commonwealth University; and Tang’s mentor is Dr. P'ng Loke, NYU Langone Medical Center.

Sela Berenblum

Berenblum’s project studied why one type of emergency contraceptive pill is more effective than another, using computer modeling to determine the mechanism responsible for the difference. She explored the molecular properties of the two drugs, giving biochemists insight into new compounds that could be developed to prevent pregnancy. Her project is called “Understanding Emergency Contraceptive Mechanisms of Action: Computational Molecular Modeling of the Progesterone Receptor Against Progesterone Receptor Modulators.”

Kevin Chang
Chang’s researched how certain cancer cells develop resistance to treatment, looking at the genetic mechanisms that allowed a rare, aggressive cancer to develop resistance to a promising anticancer drug. His research has broad implications for the development of more effective cancer therapies. His project is called: “Determining Resistance Mechanisms in Mantle Cell Lymphoma: The Search for Therapeutic Targets to Combat Acquired Resistance to Apoptosis.”

Dominick Rowan
Rowan detected a new exoplanet as part of his project, which sought to learn how many stars host a Jupiter-like planet. Since Jupiter’s migration pattern was responsible for the development of the Solar System’s architecture, his research may help determine how similar our Solar System is to others in outer space. “Rowen helped discover a Jupiter-mass exoplanet in a 6.5-year orbit around its star and calculate the frequency of Jupiter analogs in other systems,”  says Sky and Telescope The Essential Guide to Astronomy. The project is titled “Determining the Frequency of Jupiter Analogs, and the Announcement of a New Jupiter Analog Orbiting HD32963.”

Lyndsay Taylor Siegle

Siegle sought to learn why some children are more likely to mimic the social behaviors of their parents than others. Using data from the state of Virginia’s twin registry, Siegle found that a child’s personality influences his or her social views regardless of how strongly a parent holds those views. Her study, which can help future researchers eliminate one possible type of genotype-environment interaction, is called:  “Genopolitics: Determining the Genetic Basis of Political Behaviors and Attitudes through Twin Studies.”

Sarah Tang
Tang set out to learn how parasitic infection improves colitis symptoms. She injected worm eggs into two strains of mice, later collecting and comparing bacterial DNA from feces. Her research suggested that an immune response is triggered that creates a stabilizing effect on host gut bacteria. However, she also found that genetic differences and dissimilarity between samples was not significant, indicating that the immune response had no impact on gut microbes. The contradictory findings of the project, called: “Examining the Role of Stat6 in Altering the Microbiota with Heligmosomoides polygyrus Infection: The Potential of Helminthic Therapy in Treating Autoimmune Disorders,” invite additional, clarifying research.

"This year has been a banner year for our schools science research program, especially remarkable given the largest class size of seniors,” says Zenaida Bongaart. Bongaart worked under Dr. Robert Pavlica who originated the award winning program at Byram Hills High School decades ago. The program has produced 96 Intel semifinalists and 18 finalists, along with finalists and winners of other top research competitions such as the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology.

All semifinalists receive a $1,000 award, with an additional $1,000 going to their high school. On January 20, 40 semifinalists will be named Intel Science Talent Search finalists. Finalists will travel to Washington, D.C. in March, when they will compete for more than $1 million in awards. They will participate in the final judging where they display their work, meet with notable scientists, and compete for several awards, including the top three awards of $150,000 in the categories of basic research, global good and innovation.

Intel STS / Society for Science & the Public

The Intel Science Talent Search encourages students to tackle challenging scientific questions. Intel believes that students deserve the chance to develop the skills they need to become part of the next generation of innovators. In the last decade, Intel has invested more than $1 billion, while Intel employees have donated more than four million hours toward improving education in more than 70 countries.

The Intel Science Talent Search is a program of the Society for Science & the Public, which is one of the oldest nonprofit organizations in the United States. Established in 1921, the Society is a membership organization that is a leading advocate for the understanding and appreciation of science and is dedicated to science education.

Alumni of Intel STS have made extraordinary contributions. Holding more than 100 of the world’s most distinguished science and math honors, they include Nobel Prize and the National Medal of Science.

Finalists in Neuroscience Research

In addition to the Intel finalist, this past week, three Byram Hills High School seniors: Sarah Crucilla, Brian Singer and Ryan Infante were named as finalists in the Neuroscience Research Prize sponsored by the American Academy of Neurology. These three students are a total of 12 national finalists. Four of these 12 finalists will be selected to present their research at an international Neurology Conference.

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Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program
Byram Hills High School Senior Detects New Planet and Becomes Siemens Finalist

November 24, 2015
Detecting a new planet has helped earn a Byram Hills High School senior top individual honors in the Regional Finals of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, one of the nation's most prestigious science competitions for high school students. Dominick Rowan learned this week that he would advance to next month’s national finals.

"Dominick discovered a new planet – only the 20th Jupiter-like planet that has ever been discovered," said competition judge Matt Walker, Assistant Professor in the physics department at Carnegie Mellon University. "Finding other ‘Jupiters’ is important because Jupiter may have helped to make life on Earth possible, helping to clear out asteroids in the inner solar system. Ultimately this research gets to the profound question of, 'Are we alone?'"

“It’s an incredible honor for Dominick,” said Byram Hills High School Principal Chris Borsari. Dominick is Byram Hills’ first finalist in the Siemens competition and part of the high school’s highly regarded Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program. Dominick will compete in Washington, D.C., in early December for $500,000 in scholarships.

David Keith, Byram Hills’ program director, described Dominick “as an extraordinarily modest young man who put literally hundreds of hours of work” into his research project, which involved the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin.

“For the Byram Hills community, quiet Dominick is now a loud inspiration for the students who will follow in his footsteps,” said Mr. Keith. Through the high school research program, about 100 Byram Hills students perform long-term, independent research while learning how to conduct investigations and present findings.

Dominick won a $3,000 scholarship for his project, entitled, "Determining the Frequency of Jupiter Analogs and the Announcement of a Jupiter Analog Orbiting HD32963." Along with detecting a new planet outside the Solar System, Dominick calculated how many stars host a Jupiter-like planet in the Milky Way galaxy.

Dominick, who said he was excited to be recognized by the competition, said the most challenging part of his project was learning to code in a programming language while simultaneously developing a new way of analyzing data from space; the best moment was detecting the new planet.

“When I realized that this was a planet that had not been published before, I knew that this was going to be something that was really cool,” he said.

As part of his collaboration with his mentor, Dr. Stefano Meschiari of the McDonald Observatory, Dominick co-authored a research paper that has been accepted for publication in an astrophysics journal. Dominick said he was very grateful to Dr. Meschiari for his support and for sharing his time and expertise, and for the guidance of his Byram Hills teachers.  Along with Mr. Keith, Stephanie Greenwald, James Gulick and Megan Salomone also teach the research program.

Dominick, who first became interested in science when he joined his middle school's Science Olympiad team, hopes to pursue a PhD in astrophysics and a career as a researcher. He also plays bass guitar in the high school jazz band and French horn in its wind symphony band, and runs winter and spring track.

BHHS Westinghouse competition

Byram Hills Student Named Only Westchester Siemens Competition Finalist

October 21, 2015
Byram Hills High School senior Dominick Rowan has been named a finalist in the highly prestigious Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. Dominick is the only Westchester County student to reach the finals.

For the competition, Dominick sought to learn how many stars host a planet similar to Jupiter. Because Jupiter is believed to have played a critical role in the creation of our solar system’s structure, this study may help scientists infer whether planets similar to earth exist in other parts of the galaxy.

“I’m proud and I’m excited to get to the next level,” said Dominick. “This has been the best experience I could have imagined.” During his collaboration with Dr. Stefano Meschiari of the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin, Dominick also independently highlighted a previously unknown Jupiter-like planet and characterized its properties.

Dominick is Byram Hills’ first finalist in the Siemens Westinghouse competition and part of the high school’s highly regarded Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program. “This is the first year that we have focused on the Siemens Westinghouse competition,” said David Keith, the program’s director. “We are pleased with Dominick’s recognition. He is an extraordinarily talented, humble, and dedicated student.” Through the research program, about 100 Byram Hills students perform long-term, independent research while learning how to conduct investigations and present findings. Along with Mr. Keith, students in the research program are taught by Stephanie Greenwald, James Gulick and Megan Salomone.

Dominick’s work is currently under consideration for publication in an astrophysics journal. He thanked his mentor, Dr. Meschiari, for being extremely supportive and generous with his time and expertise.

Dominick and other regional finalists will advance to one of six competitions that will be judged in November by panels at research institutions. Regional finalists are each awarded a $1,000 scholarship, and will vie for additional prizes. Students who advance to the national finals, which will be held in December in Washington, D.C., will compete for $500,000 in scholarships.


Byram Hills Science Research
Science Research, In Pursuit of Excellence

May 11, 2015
Byram Hills High School will be hosting the 26th annual Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Symposium on Wednesday June 3. The Science Research Program gives students the opportunity to pursue excellence in original research throughout various fields. This year’s symposium showcases research from over one hundred students in the program, highlighting 27 senior projects. Additionally, a keynote address will be delivered by Byram Hills' very own Dr. Paul Beeken.  

The Symposium begins at 7:00 p.m. at Byram Hills High School, 12 Tripp Lane, Armonk. All are welcome to join in the celebration of our Authentic Science Research. For more information on the Science Research Program, please click here.

Byram Hills Student Presents Research at Facebook Meeting

March 9, 2015
Byram Hills High School Senior Gregory Carlin was one of six students recognized by the Intel Science Talent Search who was recently chosen to present research during a special program held at Facebook’s Manhattan headquarters.

Gregory described his research on boosting the speed of Internet queries at the February 27 program, which was coordinated by Intel and Facebook to honor New York area semifinalists from the 2015 competition and their teachers.

“It was a really cool experience. I loved the opportunity to present my work to such a large group of people,” he said. Gregory, who participates in the high school’s Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program, attended the event with science teacher David Keith, who directs the program. Both Gregory and Keith said that they enjoyed the opportunity to meet with other Intel semifinalists, their teachers and Facebook engineers. Keith said Gregory presented his research with “intelligence and aplomb.”

“His presentation skills were as fine as those of any college graduate with a degree in computer science,” said Keith. “I felt really proud."

Gregory was named an Intel semifinalist for his work on developing a query-cost model to improve the speed of database searching. His cost model analyzes certain types of queries before and after they are rewritten to predict how long they will take to execute, which allows a database to only search the actual improvements. After describing his topic at Facebook, he participated in a panel that answered audience questions on the research experience.

Byram Hills Student Wins Acorda Scientific Excellence Award

January 30, 2015
Byram Hills High School student Lucy Greenwald recently received the Acorda Scientific Excellence Award for her research paper and unique scientific study. As part of receiving the Acorda Scientific Excellence Award, she has been featured on AM 1230 WFAS, where she spoke about her project. During her sophomore year, Lucy developed an interest in neuromarketing, a new field that studies consumers’ cognitive, sensorimotor and emotional responses to marketing.

She conducted her own pilot study and soon after began devising ways to apply her research in ways that could benefit her peers and the society around her.

For her project, Lucy decided to tackle an issue that impacts more and more people in her age group: texting while driving. She applied her neuromarketing research methods to see if graphic anti-texting-while-driving PSAs were more effective than non-graphic ones in relaying the message and ultimately changing the behavior of novice drivers. She conducted a research experiment in which she used an EEG to track and record subjects’ brain activation while watching both graphic and non-graphic PSAs, then administered a followup survey 10-12 days later to compare recall of the PSAs and self-reported deterrence from texting while driving. Lucy found that there were significant changes in attention scores before graphic moments in the PSAs, and that the graphic PSA did prove to be more impactful.

“My research showed that graphic videos of crashes due to texting while driving are more effective in impacting viewers than merely talking about it,” says Greenwald. “But the fact is the best way to keep teens, or anyone, from texting while driving is to expose them to the risks. Whether it be through graphic videos, learning the statistics, or talking to someone who has been affected by a texting related crash, and especially a combination of all three - what must be done is to show all drivers, not just teens, the risks, probabilities, and prevalence of this disaster. This way the driver can decide to shut off their phone, put it on silent, put it away, or do anything to make sure they do not put themselves and everyone else in danger while on the road.”

Greg Carlin Intel semifinalist Byram Hills
Byram Hills Science Student Is Named an Intel Semifinalist

January 9, 2015
Byram Hills High School senior Greg Carlin is a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search, one of the country's most prestigious science competitions.

Greg, 17, is among 300 high school seniors selected this week as semifinalists from more than 1,800 entrants; semifinalists receive a $1,000 award, with an additional $1,000 going to their high school. Greg participates in Byram Hills’ highly regarded Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program, which is directed by science teacher David Keith.

“He’s a very deserving student,” said Mr. Keith, adding all the seniors in the program had gathered together around the time of the announcement to support each other. “The joy for Greg was enormous.”

Greg was recognized for research aimed at boosting the speed of Internet queries, which are requests for information from a database. Although databases can rewrite queries into potentially faster versions, some of those optimizations can actually slow down the process. Greg said he developed a cost model that analyzes queries before and after they are rewritten to predict how long they will take to execute. This allows the database to take advantage of improved optimizations, and has the potential to speed up everything from social networking to brain research.

His research is called “The Development of a Query Cost Model for the Weakly Dependent Subquery Optimization of the Stack-Based Query Language."

Greg, who became interested in computer programming when he was in elementary school, said he plans to attend college next year and eventually pursue a career related to computers. He said his involvement in the research program had taught him about scientific writing, the importance of revising and how to make a presentation – all skills that he said have proved very helpful.

On Jan. 21, 40 semifinalists will be named Intel Science Talent Search finalists. Finalists will travel to Washington, D.C. in March, when they will compete for more than $1 million in awards. For the first time this year, the Talent Search will provide three top prizes of $150,000 in the categories of basic research, global good and innovation. Three second-place awards will come with $75,000 each and three third-place awards with $35,000.

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A Quarter Century of Science Research at Byram Hills
By Louise T. Gantress

June 6, 2014
On June 4, Principal Chris Borsari welcomed parents to the Twenty Fifth Annual Dr. Robert Pavlica Science Research Symposium with “the rare opportunity to view the full spectrum of our students’ educational programs.” He invited the audience to view presentations, saying the students “are actually developing new knowledge” and thanked teachers, mentors and parents for their support and assistance.

This class of senior science researchers is the largest, at 37, in the 25-year history of the program. Typically, awards are presented on stage with the senior students, but this year there were so many, over 40, that this was not done. Senior remarks were made by Adam Ingber, who said one of the most valuable lessons in Science Research was how to be a leader.

Administrative Assistant Lynn Detmer was honored for her support of the students in the program and former School Board member Vincent Greco for his deciding vote to initiate the program. Three senior students were also honored: the Abe Shahim Award (he was the first participant in 1989) went to Jessica Occhiogrosso, the Excellence in Science Research to Adam Ingber, and the Dr. Pavlica Award to Elizabeth Klein.


A Byram Hills 1995 graduate and Science Research participant, Paul Bongaarts, gave the keynote address, “Is It Worth the Risk?” He defined risk as either subjective (something we can control) or objective (an independent hazard). To assess risk, one weighs potential loss against potential gain. Using his hobby of rock climbing as an illustration of how to quantify risks based on probabilities he ended, “Always carry a rope.”

Many of the students’ projects are esoteric in nature, such as “creation of a chimeric antigen receptor” or “quantum cryptography” but others were practical, such as “self-healing concrete” or addressed social issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in combat veterans with reference to changing criteria for diagnosis.

Adam Ingber paraphrased Ralph Waldo Emerson in his conclusion: “If we shoot for the stars, nothing is out of reach.”  


Byram Hills High School Student Wins Acorda Scientific Excellence Award
 
April 20, 2014
Helena Zhang, a senior at Byram Hills High School, has recently received the Acorda Scientific Excellence Award for her research paper and scientific work on alternative treatments for antibiotic-resistant MRSA.

MRSA, a bacterium, is resistant to almost all antibiotics. Helena chose to study whether endolysins, specific proteins that break bonds in bacterial cell walls, would be an effective alternative treatment for MRSA. Her study is the first-ever to examine the endolysin PlyGRCS as a treatment possibility. Based on her study results, a plethora of future research can now be started to further understand PlyGRCS, enhance its activity, and eventually develop PlyGRCS into a preventive, if not alternative, measure to antibiotics.

Helena was motivated to research MRSA treatments because she wanted to work on something that addressed the world’s most pressing needs. “I wanted to give the sick and dying a voice,” she said. Helena hopes to become a bioengineer, because she wants to make a positive impact in the pharmaceutical world.
 
As part of receiving the Acorda Scientific Excellence Award, Helena has been featured on AM 1230 WFAS, where she spoke about her project.
 
The most important thing Helena learned about herself is that she is able to find enjoyment in academia. “When I first joined Byram Hill’s Authentic Science Research Program, I was really worried I would not be able to find a topic that I was extremely passionate about. Even though my science research teachers said how everyone in the program was able to find a topic that they truly enjoyed studying, I just did not believe that would happen to me. However, in my junior year, I actually started to find that passion. It's hard to explain and pinpoint what exactly sparked my passion... but I think one major reason I was able to find that passion was because of the juxtaposition of my science research class with my other classes that year. I was so stressed and burnt out from all my junior year classes, but science research was like a nice break for me in the middle of the day (I had it 4th period). Since it was always challenging, I was used to the workload by this time. Instead of being stressed out from my work, I was actually able to spend more time just understanding my topic and finding that passion that I thought was nonexistent. For a while during junior year, I forgot that schoolwork and academics could actually be somewhat enjoyable, but it was my research that reminded me that. While people often find academia, science, and laboratory work (or "bench work") to be boring,  I not only found enjoyment in them all, I found my passion, so much that I hope to continue research and science in college and my career.”

Byram Hills Intel
Byram Hills High School Has Most Intel Semifinalists in Westchester  

January 9, 2014
Eight Byram Hills High School students have been named semifinalists in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search – the most of any school district in Westchester County.

Samuel Cawkwell, Jonathan Giardina, Andrei Isichenko, Jessica Occhiogrosso, Matthew Percello, Amanda Tantleff, Helena Zhang and Brian Zimmerman are all enrolled in the high school’s highly regarded Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program.

Students learn a wealth of research and presentation skills in the program while conducting independent research under their teachers’ guidance. On Wednesday, the new semifinalists celebrated their achievement with the program’s teachers.

“I never expected that my research would be recognized at this level,” said Jonathan Giardina. “It’s a really great feeling.”

Amanda Tantleff said the honor was a surprise, but noted that she and other science scholars had put hours of hard work into their projects, including doing research over the summer with professional mentors. Her project studied why allergic children don’t always use their EpiPens and other devices during an anaphylactic reaction – a subject that attracted her because she has allergies of her own. 

Science teacher David Keith, the program’s director, said providing students with an opportunity to pursue original research draws students into the program – and keeps them engaged.

“They are able to say for a brief moment that I know something that no one else in the world knows right now,” said Mr. Keith. “To me, that’s elegant, and that moment is what science is all about.” Since 1991, there have been 90 semifinalists from Byram Hills.

The students earned Intel honors for a wide variety of projects that touched on subjects spanning the sciences. Jonathan studied how bacterial toxins can promote a form of cell death while Helena Zhang focused on a protein that could potentially be used to treat or prevent antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. Brian Zimmerman used physics-based equations to clarify how a dinosaur’s tail muscles worked while Andrei Isichenko used quantum physics to study how to better protect data from security breaches.

Samuel Cawkwell studied communication among cancer cells and the role that cell messengers may play in the spread of cancer. Jessica Occhiogrosso studied how two proteins affect disc degeneration, and suggested a molecular target that drug companies could study to reduce pain. Matt Percello sought to learn whether there is an increase in emotional response to music after exercising, and discovered there was.

The Byram Hills students are among 300 semifinalists nationally who were chosen from nearly 1,800 entrants from 489 high schools. The district had the second-highest number of semifinalists in the state. Later this month, 40 students will be named finalists and will travel to Washington DC to compete for the top awards.

Each semifinalist in the competition, often considered the top science contest in the country for high school students, receives a $1,000 award. The high school will also receive $1,000 for each of the semifinalists chosen.

There are 121 Byram Hills students in the school’s research program. Along with Mr. Keith, Stephanie Greenwald and Kenneth Kaplan also teach in the program.