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South High Student Named 2020 Regeneron STS Scholar

Kallista Zhuang of South High School has been named a Scholar in the prestigious 2020 Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) competition. She is one of 300 semifinalists nationwide, selected from an applicant pool of nearly 2,000 students.

Regeneron STS Scholars each receive $2,000, with a matching amount for their school to use toward STEM-related activities.

Kallista’s award-winning project is titled, “A Novel Link Between Xenoestrogen Bisphenol-A’s Neurotoxicity and Neuroinflammation via Estrogenic Activity and Alzheimer’s Disease Pathogenesis.” She conducted her research at SUNY Old Westbury.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a man-made chemical additive found in many common manufactured products (e.g. water bottles, food containers, plastic toys), and is now a widespread environmental contaminant. It mimics important functions of estrogen, making it dangerous to organs that respond to estrogen, such as the brain. Many studies have suggested that environmental pollution is a factor in Alzheimer’s disease development. In this study, Bisphenol-A was observed to be toxic to neuronal cells and to increase the deleterious effects of cellular factors that play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Science research teachers/advisors at South High are Dr. Carol Hersh, Nicole Spinelli, and Dr. James Truglio.

On Jan. 22, 40 of the top 300 Scholars will become Regeneron Finalists. Finalists will travel to Washington, DC, in March to compete for top awards.

The Regeneron competition is the former Westinghouse and then the Intel Science Talent Search. The Talent Search, begun in 1942, is the nations’ oldest, and often considered its most prestigious, pre-college mathematics and science competition. It is administered by Society for Science & the Public, a non-profit group based in Washington.


Kallista Zhuang is congratulated by her science teachers and building administrators

Regeneron STS Scholar Kallista Zhuang (seated, center) is congratulated by (back row, left to right) science department head Michael DiPasquale, Principal Dr. Christopher Gitz, and (front row) science research teachers/advisors Dr. Carol Hersh, Dr. James Truglio, and Nicole Spinelli.