As the 2024 Regeneron Science Talent Search wrapped up last week with three Long Island students making the finals, several former local semifinalists and finalists said that participating in the nation's oldest and most prestigious science contest has impacted their lives beyond high school.

Dozens of Long Island high school seniors enter the competition each year with extensive research projects that have taken months to complete. The Society for Science, which runs the competition, typically announces the semifinalists in January with that group winnowed to finalists a week or so later. This year, Long Island — with 50 — had more semifinalists than any other region in the nation.

Overall, more than 2,100 students submitted work for this year's contest, and on Tuesday, a New Hampshire teen won the top prize of $250,000 out of 40 finalists. Three Long Island students were each awarded $25,000 for their work. 

The competition is now in its 83rd year and program alumni include recipients of the world’s most coveted science and math honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 21 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, as well as the founders of many important science-based companies, including Regeneron. The competition used to be known as Westinghouse, then Intel and most recently Regeneron.

Former Long Island honorees from these major science competitions include physicians, research scientists, Ivy League students, attorneys, finance experts and a U.S. Marine. They all are graduates of their high school's advanced research programs. 

Here is where some of them are now:

Ricardo Lopez and Roberto Lopez

Roberto Lopez, left, and his twin brother, Ricardo, in 2022. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Twin brothers, formerly of Brentwood High School

Age: Both are 19

When did they place: Roberto was semifinalist in 2022; Ricardo was a finalist.

Now: Both are sophomores at Yale University.

Roberto said: “Regeneron was such an eye-opening experience in the world of science and technology and has led me to continue scientific research. … As for the most valuable lesson I have learned from this experience, it would be that having a supporting mentor, teacher, individual or someone who strives to help you learn and succeed is such a gift and will help you tremendously toward your goals.”

Ricardo said: “Regeneron, I feel as if it made my transition into college a lot easier, especially in regards to being a STEM major. By being a part of Regeneron I was exposed to the fundamentals of research science, such as how to read and analyze research papers, and the fundamentals of research science is a crucial and highly stressed skill for STEM majors at college. A lesson that I still carry from my experience with Regeneron is that science is never stationary and there's always something waiting to be discovered that will make you think, 'Huh, how come I didn't think about that.' ”

Rebecca Monastero

Rebecca Monastero, as a semifinalist in 2013, and today.

Rebecca Monastero, as a semifinalist in 2013, and today.

Formerly of Sayville High School

Age: 29

When did she place: Semifinalist in 2013

Now: Resident physician, Department of Neurology, Stony Brook University Hospital

“My research project studied the relationships between seafood consumption, mercury, omega-3 fatty acids and various health endpoints in a population of avid seafood consumers on Long Island. This project was my first foray into epidemiological research and sparked my passion for public health and public health research, which has in turn impacted the care I provide my patients as I focus on social determinants of health and evidence-based care.”

Andrew J. Brinton

Andrew J. Brinton, as a finalist in 2020, and today. Credit: Newsday/ J. Conrad Williams Jr.; United States Marine Corps

Formerly of John F. Kennedy High School, Bellmore

Age: 21

When did he place: Finalist in 2020

Now: Senior at Hofstra University with a major in community health and a double minor in civic engagement and nutrition science. He's a lieutenant volunteer advanced emergency medical technician and an infantry Marine.

“My research project was my foot in the door with service. My project was personal and I learned the value of being hands-on and working hard. Research is one of the many great ways to serve our country and better our communities, and had I not done my research, I never would have learned the principles of leadership and service that came with my project, and never would have become a Marine or first responder.”

Robert Hackett

Robert Hackett inside IBM's Goldeneye "superfridge," the world's largest dilution...

Robert Hackett inside IBM's Goldeneye "superfridge," the world's largest dilution refrigerator, in 2020. Credit: Syntax

Formerly of Sanford H. Calhoun High School, Merrick

Age: 33

When did he place: Semifinalist in 2008

Now: Editorial partner at Andreessen Horowitz

“Pursuing research in high school helped prepare me for a career steeped in science and technology, first as a journalist covering advances such as quantum computing and blockchain networks, and now at a venture capital firm that invests in cutting-edge computer science. I use skills I learned in the lab — how to ask questions, test assumptions, and communicate effectively — every day.”

Michael Wagner

Michael Wagner, a finalist in 2002, and today. Credit: Newsday archives; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Formerly of John F. Kennedy High School, Bellmore

Age: 39

When did he place: Finalist in 2002

Now: Oncologist and clinical researcher at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Institute

“Exposure to science research in high school set me on a course of continued learning and discovery that still drives my work today.”

Julie (Friedman) Marcus

Julie Friedman in 2004 and today. Credit: Newsday/ David L. Pokress; Weill Cornell Medicine

Formerly of John F. Kennedy High School, Bellmore

Age: 38

When did she place: Semifinalist in 2004

Now: Cardiologist, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

“I truly credit this program for introducing me to the field of science research, something I knew very little about as a high school student. Learning how to formulate a research question, develop a protocol to answer that question, and then coherently present the project both in written and oral form at such an early stage in my education gave me a meaningful advantage as I entered college.

This program was a major stepping stone for my career in the sciences. The one-on-one mentorship that I was fortunate to receive as such a young high school student is something that I have always been incredibly grateful for. The skills that I learned back then continue to be useful on an almost a daily basis as I have worked on various research projects throughout my years of medical training and continue to do so as an attending physician at a large academic hospital.”

Jamie Forman

Jamie Forman today. She was a Regeneron semifinalist in 2007.

Jamie Forman today. She was a Regeneron semifinalist in 2007. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Formerly of John F. Kennedy High School, Bellmore

Age: 35

When did she place: Semifinalist in 2007

Now: Industrial-organizational psychologist

“This program taught me how to think critically, problem-solve effectively and cultivate long-term professional relationships. These and other skills I gained in this program have hugely benefited me in my work, where the day-to-day challenges often mirror those I experienced when I participated in research.”

Daniel Bornstein

Daniel Bornstein, as a semifinalist in 2010, and today.

Daniel Bornstein, as a semifinalist in 2010, and today. Credit: handout; Vanderbilt University

Formerly of John F. Kennedy High School, Bellmore

Age: 32

When did he place: Semifinalist in 2010

Now: Attorney/director of planned giving, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

“My STS project was the start of my journey as an environmental advocate. It inspired me to travel to Africa during college to study sustainable agriculture. Today, I remain in the environmental advocacy field. I remain connected to the Science for Society.”

Sabrina Guo

Sabrina Guo, as a semifinalist in 2023, and a freshman at Yale today. Credit: Guo family

Formerly of Syosset High School

Age: 18

When did she place: Semifinalist in 2023

Now: Freshman at Yale, pursuing a degree at the intersection of law, business and public policy.

“The competition has taught me many important life and academic skills such as critical analysis, communication and networking skills. But beyond that … being a Regeneron STS scholar is not just an achievement — it's a precious opportunity to network with esteemed trailblazers in various research fields and meet other youths who will become the future trailblazers. I have met some of my closest friends through this competition and we are still each other's biggest supporters. … It's a prestigious award but it's not just that. It's a community that will embrace you for life.”

Rachel Mashal

Rachel Mashal, as a 2016 semifinalist, and today. Credit: Evelyn Hockstein; Alphasigts

Formerly of John F. Kennedy High School, Bellmore

Age: 26

When did she place: Semifinalist in 2016

Now: Capital markets manager at AlphaSights in New York City, working to connect hedge funds with experts as part of their research process.

“Participating in research/STS in high school has shaped who I am both personally and professionally. Research taught me the true definition of relentless hard work, grit, determination and resilience. I learned how to be intellectually curious, solve problems and collaborate with others. Because of these values that research instilled in me, I have a really fulfilling professional career.”

Jake Levine

Jake Levine, as a semifinalist in 2019, and today. Credit: Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District; Rayan Rizvi

Formerly of John F. Kennedy High School, Bellmore

Age: 23

When did he place: Semifinalist in 2019

Now: Recent graduate of Stanford University in management science and engineering. Working as a management consultant at Oliver Wyman.

“The hundreds of hours spent planning, researching, implementing, writing and submitting my project laid a foundation of diligence, rigor and intellectual curiosity which has since been a major part of how I navigate all of my academic and professional endeavors.

It showed me my potential. It was the first time I went through a truly comprehensive and detailed review process on a complicated piece of work which I owned entirely. The lesson on iteration and collaboration has allowed me to excel in team environments and drive high-quality outputs in school and at work.”

Nick McCormick

Nick McCormick today. Credit: Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District

Formerly of Wellington C. Mepham High School, Bellmore

Age: 30

When did he place: Semifinalist in 2011

Now: An engineering director

“It's funny — I was actually thinking about my research today at work. I work for one of the largest telco providers in the Northeast and my team is responsible for data engineering and analytics — a lot of the data we work with is geospatial data. I haven't made a map in quite a long time, but my co-workers do it regularly. And I can understand exactly what they're doing because I was doing GIS research during my time in the program. Wild to think that something I studied as a high school student 15 years ago is still relevant in my day-to-day.”

Benjamin Honigsfeld

Benjamin Honigsfeld today. Credit: Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District

Formerly of Wellington C. Mepham High School, Bellmore

Age: 25

When did he place: Semifinalist in 2016 

Now: Second-year student at Ben Gurion University Medical School of International Health

“Advanced Science Research at Mepham with fantastic educators like Dr. David Kommor primed my passion for medicine. After contributing to ovarian cancer and medulloblastoma research from the connections I built in ASR, I hope to pursue a career in oncology after I achieve my medical degree.”

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