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South High Student Named 2021 Regeneron STS Scholar

Mia Wang with the Regnerson STS Banner graphic

Mia Wang of South High School has been named a Scholar in the prestigious 2021 Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) competition. She is one of 300 semifinalists nationwide, selected from an applicant pool of 1,760 students.

Mia’s award-winning project is titled, “Assessing the Impacts of Social Determinants on Adult Obesity Rates in New York.” Her study used New York State as a model for the country to observe the contribution of social determinants — socioeconomic status, education, and food environment, in particular — on the percentage of the adult population that is obese.

Traditionally, high school science research students partner with local and national laboratories or universities to conduct advanced research alongside mentors. With schools and laboratories closed in 2020 due to the pandemic, students overcame obstacles and found alternative means to conduct groundbreaking research using resources from home. 

For her project, Mia independently collected data from national databases such as the U.S. Census, Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention, and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Using this data, she conducted a stepwise regression on SPSS (a statistical software platform) and ultimately found that economic factors were the most useful predictors of the percent of adults that are obese. These findings can potentially be used to decrease adult obesity rates by addressing the underlying social issues at hand, such as investing more in programs that provide employment or financial relief.

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

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

On Jan. 21, 40 of the top 300 Scholars will be named Regeneron Finalists. Finalists will compete in March 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.