Five Great Neck Regeneron Scholars Named

North High Regeneron Scholars (from third from left) Christopher Lu, Aaron Geula, Michelle Goh and Joshua Rothbaum are flanked by Principal Daniel Holtzman and science research teacher/advisors Jessica Schust, department chair, Alan Schorn, Samantha Sforza and Christopher Bambino. (Photo by Colleen Bowler)

Five Great Neck Public Schools students—four from North High and one from South High—have been named 2019 Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholars.

The North High students are Aaron Geula, Michelle Goh, Christopher Lu and Joshua Rothbaum; Ethan Wang was named from South High.

Great Neck’s Regeneron scholars are among 300 semifinalists nationwide, who were selected from an applicant pool of nearly 2,000 students.

Each of the scholars will receive $2,000, with a matching $2,000 grant for their school.

Aaron Geula

Geula’s project, The Neuroscience of Two: Does Cross Brain Coherence Measured by fNIS Imply a Transfer of Information Between Partners?, which was conducted at conducted Yale University, used a neuroimaging system known as fNIRS to determine whether disruptors—such as a classic telephone ring or the instrumental version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”—would interfere with the neural processes that occur between the brains of two people when making eye contact. It was found that both noises disrupted cross-brain coherence, but the music disrupted the coherence less. This disruption takes a step toward establishing cross-brain coherence as a transfer of information and can be applied to study coherence differences in people with social disorders.

Michelle Goh

Goh’s project, The Neuroscience of Artificial Intelligence: Comparison of Brain Activation During Text-Based Chatting with Human and Chatbot Partners, which was conducted at conducted Yale University, explored human interaction with artificial intelligence by comparing the brain activity elicited by human-to-human and human-to-chatbot social interaction. Using the fNIRS neuroimaging system to measure brain activity of subjects, it was found that the human condition exhibited greater activity in areas of the right hemisphere associated with human interpersonal communication, while the chatbot condition revealed more activity in brain regions responsible for basic phonetic functions, such as interpreting sensory input and creating an output. These results suggest that texting with a human produces a richer response that engages more social areas of the brain than messaging with a chatbot.

Christopher Lu

Lu’s project, Taming a Retrotransponson: Identification of a Domesticated gag Gene in Zebrafish, was conducted at Cornell University. When viruses invade organisms, they take over by transcribing and replicating within the host genome. Viruses that have lost the ability to invade hosts are called retrotransposons—foreign genetic elements that amplify themselves through transcription and insertion separately from the host genome. While these genetic elements often cause harmful effects on the host, some benefit the host organism and are, over time, domesticated into the host genome as genes. Lu’s experiment investigated whether the foreign retrotransposon known as Arc, which plays a major role in neuron-neuron communication and long-term memory processes, has been domesticated into the genome of zebrafish. After investigating the zebrafish protein database and processing gene-like and retrotransposon-like elements, the results of this computational study indicate that the Arc gene has been domesticated evolutionarily-recently into the genome of zebrafish.

Joshua Rothbaum

Rothbaum’s project, Development of a Linear Tubular Design for Electrostatic Mobility Filters: A Cost-Effective Approach to Ion Mobility Spectroscopy, was conducted at Yale University. The goal of Rothbaum’s project was to develop an inexpensive, compact device for the sizing of charged particles with diameters on the order of one billionth of a meter. The device built in this investigation passed charged nanoparticles through a tube with an opposing electric field and attempted to analyze changes in the number of particles that pass through the tube at various field strengths in order to determine size distributions. While the analyzer developed in this project was not precise enough to fully discriminate sizes, the issues limiting its performance were identified and can be improved upon in future studies.

Ethan Wang

Wang’s project, Artemisinin and mefloquine as a novel chemotherapeutic combination treatment against colorectal cancer through signaling network alleviation and p-glycoprotein inhibition, investigated the capacity of a known antimalarial regimen—Artemisinin and mefloquine—to be used as a novel combination therapy in colorectal cancer (CRC) cells, was conducted at SUNY Old Westbury. He observed significant synergistic reduction in proliferation and metastasis of colorectal cancer cells, as well as normalization of cellular targets implicated in the progression of CRC.

North High science research teachers/advisors are Christopher Bambino, Laura Kachmar, Maya Lerner, Alan Schorn, Samantha Sforza and Jessica Schust, department chair. Science research teachers/advisors at South High are Dr. Carol Hersh, Nicole Spinelli, and Dr. James Truglio.

South High Regeneron Scholar Ethan Wang (second from left) is joined by science research teachers/advisors Dr. Carol Hersh, Nicole Spinelli and Dr. James Truglio, and Assistant Principal Sharon Applebaum. (Photo by Colleen Bowler)

“Regeneron congratulates this year’s Science Talent Search scholars, who have applied deep curiosity and rigorous research skills to the important scientific questions of today,” said Hala Mirza, senior vice president of Corporate Communications and Citizenship at Regeneron. “These students are the future leaders of tomorrow and are using innovative thinking to improve our world. We hope their achievements will inspire other young people to engage with STEM.”

On Jan. 23, 40 of the top 300 scholars will be named finalists and will compete in Washington, DC, in March.

The Regeneron competition is the former Westinghouse and then the Intel Science Talent Search, which began in 1942. It’s the nation’s oldest—and often considered its most prestigious—precollege science competition.


  1. A selected group of talented students doesn’t make our school system great! We still have kids opting out of tests every year!

Leave a Reply