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Students Earn Top Awards at 36th Annual Research Science Institute

McLean, VA(August 8, 2019) –The Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) is pleased to announce its Research Science Institute (RSI) top 5 award winners for oral and top 5 written presentations --- chosen from 82 participants by an eminent panel of judges at the 36th annual RSI held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The $1,000 scholarship awards were presented by Dr. Ross Grossman, retired SVP, Human Resources, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., on behalf of Regeneron. Dr. Grossman is currently a CEE Trustee.


Top 5 Written Presentations:

Ahmad Abdel-Azim Appleton, WI, Appleton North High School      
Using Single-cell RNA Sequencing Data to Study Plastid Differentiation Dynamics with Nucleus-Encoded Gene Expression in Arabidopsis thaliana 
Mentor: Tessa Green (Harvard Medical School, Systems Biology)

Jason Liu, Reno, NV, The Davidson Academy Of Nevada
Quantum Integer-Valued Polynomials
Mentor: Robert Burklund (MIT, Mathematics)         

Nadine Meister, Ellicott City, MD, Centennial High School
Cooperative Relaxation in Supercooled Liquids: Kadanoff's Block Construction and Wilson's Renormalization Group Transformation
Mentor: Prof. Udayan Mohanty (Boston College, Chemistry)          

Sahil Pontula, Apex, NC, Enloe Magnet High School
Designing a General-Purpose Differentiable Partial Differential Equation Solver for Parameter Extraction and Inverse Design
Mentor: Peter Lu, Professor Marin Soljaˇci ́c (MIT, Physics)

Zhifei Yu, Shenzhen,China, Phillips Academy
Orbital Decay of the X-ray Binary LMCX-4         
Mentor: Prof. Saul A. Rappaport (Emeritus) (MIT, Kavli Institute for Astrophysics) 

Top 5 Oral Presentations:

Dawson Byrd, Norwalk, CT, Phillips Exeter Academy
Transfer Learning for Automating Science Journalism
Mentor: Rumen Dangovski (MIT, Physics)

Dimitar Chakarov, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, High School in Mathematics “Acad. Kiril Popov”
On a Generalization of Artin's Conjecture on Primitive Roots
Mentor: Yichi Zhang (MIT, Mathematics)

Azra Haseki, Istanbul, Turkey, Robert College 
Exploring the Origins of Life: The Role of UV Light in Prebiotic Chemistry
Mentor: Dr. Sukrit Ranjan (MIT, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences)

Rupert Li, Portland, OR, Jesuit High School
Fq-rational points of hypersurfaces in weighted projective spaces over finite fields
Mentor: Chun Hong Lo (MIT, Mathematics)

Sarosh Nagar, Northbrook, IL, Glenbrook North High School
Determining the Size of the Useful Field of View (UFOV) based on Target Object Attributes
Mentors: Prof. Jeremy Wolfe and Dr. Chia-Chien Wu (Brigham and Women's Hospital Visual Attention Laboratory)

The Keynote Speaker at the RSI Convocation Dinner was Greg Gunn, RSI ’86, Co-Founder, Lingo Ventures. Greg holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Chicago, an MBA and Masters in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was a Rhodes Scholar. He was named one of Fast Company magazine’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” in 2012. He serves as an expert-in-residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab and is on the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Greg also served as a Trustee to CEE.

Jaehyun Lee, a senior at Seoul Science High School in Seoul, Republic of Korea, was voted by his peers for the top honor—Rickoid of the Year. This award recognizes academic acumen, leadership, and personal demeanor, and is named for the late Admiral H.G. Rickover, father of the Nuclear Navy and a founder of CEE.

“These scholars are our future creators, inventors, scientists and leaders of the 21st century, and their research represents a high level of academic acumen,” said Joann P. DiGennaro, CEE President. “RSI students experience graduate-level research and camaraderie with other academically talented STEM students.”

RSI is offered cost-free by CEE to competitively selected top achieving students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The intensive, six-week summer program gives students the opportunity to conduct original, cutting-edge Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) research in state-of-the-art university laboratories, hospitals and corporate research facilities in Boston and Cambridge, MA. CEE’s committee of professional educators and RSI alumni selects students based on high school records, personal essays, standardized test scores, teacher recommendations, research experience, potential for leadership, and honors and awards in math and science. 

The 2019 RSI summer program included one week of theoretical classroom work, followed by four-and-a-half weeks of high-level research under the mentorship of leading scientists, engineers, and researchersin the students’ respective areas of interest. In their final week, students demonstrated their research work through written academic papers and oral presentations to their peers and the panel of judges.

In addition to 52 U.S. high school rising seniors, 30 international students participated this summer from Bulgaria, Canada, China, India, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey.

CEE’s nearly 3,000 successful alumni have a STEM career retention rate of over 80 percent and benefit from the Center’s referral, networking and enrichment activities throughout their collegiate and professional careers.

About the Center for Excellence in Education
The Center for Excellence in Education was founded in 1983 by the late Admiral H.G. Rickover and Joann P. DiGennaro, President of the Center. The Center's mission is to nurture high school and university scholars to careers of excellence and leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and to encourage collaboration between and among leaders in the global community. CEE’s programs include the Research Science Institute (RSI), the USA Biology Olympiad (USABO), and the Teacher Enrichment Program (TEP).

Media Contacts: Tom Flavell, (703) 448-9062 ext. 237
Resources: Joann DiGennaro, CEE President, (703) 448-9062 ext. 239
  Maite Ballestero, CEE Executive VP, (703) 448-9062 ext. 235

Related websites:
Center for Excellence in Education:
Research Science Institute:


Top five 2019 award winners for written presentations with Dr. Ross Grossman, retired SVP, Human Resources at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and currently a CEE Trustee, along with Keynote Speaker Greg Gunn (RSI ’86), Co-Founder, Lingo Ventures, on the left.


Top five 2019 award winners for oral presentations with Dr. Ross Grossman, retired SVP, Human Resources at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and currently a CEE Trustee, along with Keynote Speaker Greg Gunn (RSI ’86), Co-Founder, Lingo Ventures, on the left.


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