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Poly Student Selected as Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar

Ursula V. Battle | 2/3/2017, 6 a.m. | Updated on 2/2/2017, 2:42 p.m.
Amy Zhang, a senior at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute was selected as a national scholar in the 2017 Regeneron Science Talent ...
Amy Zhang, a senior at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute was selected as a national scholar in the 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search. Courtesy Photo

my Zhang, a senior at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and a member of the Ingenuity Project, was selected as a national scholar in the 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search (Regeneron STS) Ingenuity Student Class of 2017. Amy’s research involved the modification of a cell-sized mechanical tool called a “microgripper”.

Regeneron is a company founded with the goal of transforming lives through science, and is committed to supporting the development of highly engaged, well-trained and innovative young thinkers. Regeneron prioritizes the need to support young scientists who are generating ideas and solutions to address global challenges.

“A microgripper is a really small tool that is able to encapsulate a single cell,” explained Amy.

Amy investigated potential propulsion designs for the microgripper, which could aid in the capture and retrieval of a single cell. According to Baltimore Polytechnic officials, Amy’s work could be used in microsurgery and medical research to understand the fundamental characteristics of cells.

“I got accepted into Yale University, and I want to become a chemical engineer,” said Amy. “This is is the same field my research was in. My research ultimately helped me to decide what career path I wanted to take. ”

The title of Amy’s project was “Self-Folding Motile Encapsulating Microdevices for Use in Single-Cell Analysis.” Amy did her work at the Johns Hopkins University Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and was mentored by Professor David Gracias and graduate student Qianru Jin.

The announcement of 300 high school seniors named as scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2017, was made on January 4, 2017. The competition is a program of the Society for Science & The Public.

Amy and the others scholars received a $2,000 award with an additional $2,000 going to his or her school. Scholars were selected from more than 1,700 applicants hailing from 182 high schools in 36 states and three American and international high schools overseas.

The Regeneron Science Talent Search (Regeneron STS) is the nation's most prestigious pre-college science competition. Alumni of Regeneron STS have made extraordinary contributions to science and hold more than 100 of the world's most coveted science and math honors, including the Nobel Prize and National Medal of Science.

Annually, students entering the Regeneron STS compete for more than $3.1 million in awards. From the select pool of scholars, 40 finalists have been invited to Washington, D.C. March 9-15, 2017 to participate in final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists, and compete for the top award of $250,000.

“It was really unexpected,” said Amy. “But it was a very rigorous process, and I worked really hard. I tried as hard as I could to do my best, and having the fruit of my labor recognized was really gratifying. I am very happy right now, and just would like to focus on the journey.”

The 40 finalists will undergo a rigorous judging process to determine the top 10 winners. They will also have the opportunity to meet with national leaders and share their projects with the public at the National Geographic Society.

While Amy was not selected as one of the 40 finalists, she certainly has a bright future in front of her. Lisa Fridman is the Dean of Research for the Ingenuity Project, and also teaches Senior Research Seminar at Polytechnic High School.

“Amy’s work is exceptional,” said Fridman. “I read her first draft. She spent countless hours working and clarifying her words to make sure they were understandable. The competition has specific formatting, and she went above and beyond to make sure it was perfect. I was not surprised they recognized her. Hard work does pay off. From the beginning, she was very passionate about this field. It’s all about hard work and passion, and Amy has both.”

She added, “Professor David Gracias and Qianru Jin were also very instrumental. They helped to support Amy’s data collection, helped to define her research and supported her in the lab. They have done an excellent job in mentoring.”