When the phone rang, Byram Hills High School senior Audrey Saltzman was in the middle of a clarinet lesson, something she’s been doing for the past nine of her 17 years. She recalls having had an odd feeling at the time, but she tossed off the incoming call as something that couldn’t possibly be life-changing. “But when I heard my parents screaming from the other room,” says Saltzman, “I knew I was wrong.”
The portentous call was from representatives of Regeneron, who’d called the “speechless” Cum Laude Society student and varsity debate-team captain to inform her that she — along with Blake Hord from Dobbs Ferry High School and Jonathan Chung of Hendrick Hudson High School — was named a Top-40 finalist in the 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search. The annual competition scours the country for the brightest high school seniors in the fields of math and science, selecting their finalists “based on scientific rigor and world-changing potential of their research projects.” What earned Audrey her place on the list was the computational model she developed to understand and describe a specific transient neutron star in a low-mass X-ray binary star system within the Milky Way galaxy (yeah, we don’t get it either).
The MIT-bound Audrey says that while there is still a disparity between males and females in the sciences, “students and faculty are very aware of it, and things appear to be heading in the right direction. I could see a difference even from last year to this year.”
About the Regeneron Science Talent Search
The Regeneron Science Talent Search is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science-and-math competition for high school seniors. Each year, approximately 1,700 students nationwide submit original research in critically important scientific fields of study and are judged by leading experts in their fields.
As part of its 10-year, $100 million commitment, Regeneron has significantly increased awards, with a total distribution of $3.1 million annually and a top prize of $250,000.
For the first 55 years (1942-1997), Westinghouse was the title sponsor of the competition; Intel took over from 1998 to 2016. This year marks Regeneron’s debut as competition sponsor.