A Ward Melville senior using supercomputers to evaluate drugs that prevent cancer cells from developing resistance to chemotherapy is a finalist in one of the nation's premier research contests for teenagers.
Ruoyi Jiang, 17, of East Setauket, will compete next month for scholarships ranging from $10,000 to the top prize of $100,000 in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, the contest announced last night at a regional event at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Jiang's project is "Targeting Loop Dynamics in BetaI/BetaIII Isotype Tubulin: The Application of In Silico Techniques in Combating Chemotherapy Drug Resistance."
This year, a record 1,348 projects were submitted by students nationwide - a 12 percent increase over last year. Entrants - this year, 2,151 - typically spend a year doing the research for the project. Some team up and submit a single project.
Nationwide, there were 96 regional finalists - nine of whom were from Long Island schools, including three from Ward Melville, one from Long Beach High, one from Herricks High, one from East Meadow, another from North Shore Hebrew Academy and two from Manhasset High, the contest said.
Jiang was elated after learning the news that his years of research had paid off.
Jiang presented at a poster session, did a 12-minute presentation and stood his ground during a grilling from a panel of judges about this project.
"It was somewhat nerve-racking, but I practiced," Jiang said.
Jiang, who plays the violin and pencil-draws when he's not doing research, worked with his mentor, Stony Brook University's Carlos Simmerling, an associate professor of chemistry.
In addition, finalists from Queens included a team of 16-year-old juniors who studied early men and their tools: Xiao "Cathy" Zhou of Flushing, who attends Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows; Israt Ahmed of Woodhaven, also a Lewis student; and Stephanie Chen of Bayside, who attends Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan.
Jiang, Zhou, Ahmed and Chen will be among about two dozen teens at the national finals, to be at New York University next month.
The Siemens competition is administered by the College Board, which also gives the SAT, and funded by the Siemens Foundation.
Last year, for the first time since the Siemens competition began more than a decade ago, no Long Island student advanced to the national finals. Twelve Long Island students had been regional finalists.
As Jiang prepares to go on to the national finals, he said he'll make sure to "take it all in stride."
"Whatever you do, always try your best," he said last night. "Things will work out."