WHK Student Interns Named Top Scholars in Regeneron Science Talent Search

By Chris Worthington, Staff Writer; photos by Richard Frederickson, Staff Photographer
Two students compete at the Student Science Jeopardy Tournament.

Evan Yamaguchi (right) with teammate Anuk Dayaprema at the 10th Annual NCI at Frederick Scientific Library Student Science Jeopardy Tournament.

Two Werner H. Kirsten Student Interns were recently named Top Scholars in the 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s most prestigious science and math competition for high school students.

Anurudh Ramanan Ganesan, 17, of Clarksburg High School, and Evan Paul Yamaguchi, 17, of Governor Thomas Johnson High School, reached the semifinals of the Regeneron competition, a nationwide talent search that has been held annually since 1942. They were among the 300 semifinalists chosen from a field of more than 1,700 entrants.

“I am very proud of Evan’s success, which is well-deserved,” said Yamaguchi’s mentor, Nadya Tarasova, Ph.D., head, Synthetic Biologics and Drug Discovery Facility. “The project involved not only computer-guided optimization of chemical structures and synthesis of these newly designed compounds but also characterization of their biological effects by sophisticated biophysical methods. Evan came up with many really good ideas in the course of his work that helped us to advance a very important project.”

Though they were not selected as part of the 40 finalists, each student received $2,000, and another $2,000 was donated to their respective schools.

The winner of the 2017 competition was Indrani Das, 17, of Oradell, New Jersey. She is studying possible approaches to treating neuron death resulting from brain injury or neurodegenerative disease. Das took home the top prize of $250,000.

Previous alumni of the Science Talent Search include 12 Nobel Prize winners, two Fields Medal winners, 18 MacArthur Foundation Fellows, 11 National Medal of Science winners, and many other prestigious scientists and mathematicians.