Two Finalists, Five Semifinalists in Siemens Competition

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Syosset High School is proud to announce that seniors Sarah Lee and Kunal Shah have been named regional finalists in the Siemens Competition for Math, Science and Technology. Sarah and Kunal are among the school’s five student researchers who achieved semifinalist status in the nation’s premier science research competition for high school students. As finalists, they will present their research to a Siemens panel of judges on Nov. 21 to determine whether they advance to the national finals in Washington, D.C., in December.

Sarah and Kunal both conducted their research at Stony Brook University. They are among just 15 finalists from Long Island who will vie for one of five national individual finalist spots and five team finalist spots from each region.

Sarah researched alternative ways to block pain receptors in the body. She studied the chemistry of natural pain blockers and their attachment to various cell receptors and found that there were several compounds that could block cell receptors as a novel and effective way to relieve pain while avoiding many of the side effects and consequences associated with over-the-counter medications.

Kunal, who worked as part of a team with two students from different high schools, discovered a method to make fuel cells more efficient by modifying current hydrogen fuel cells with the addition of graphene oxide nanoparticles. His research partners are Brian Rhee of Half Hollow Hills East and Roshan Patel from Ward Melville. Sarah worked independently.

Regional finalists will present their projects remotely via Web conferencing and other digital means on Nov. 21 to judges at one of six prestigious research universities across the country. National finalists will be identified through that process and compete in December at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Six individuals and six teams will win scholarship awards ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

Along with Sarah and Kunal, Syosset High School senior Robert Klyner and juniors Rahul Chaudhry and Sahil Chaudhry made it to the regional semifinalist round in the competition. Working as a team at Stony Brook University, Rahul and Sahil tackled the problem of overactive platelets and excessive blood clotting by creating an algorithm to determine platelet shape, and based upon that information could predict the best medication for doctors to prescribe. This algorithm is more effective than current methods, which typically take two to three months to complete. Robert conducted his research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, analyzing the DNA of three patients with epilepsy. Specifically, he looked at de novo mutations, which are spontaneous mutations not affecting other members of a family. He not only found a way of identifying de novo mutations, but also discovered a potential link in the DNA sequence to the disease.

All of the students studied under the tutelage of Syosset High School research facilitator Veronica Ade.