As the “nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition,” the Regeneron Student Talent Search named senior Nicholas DiStefano as one of its 300 High School Scholars. Regeneron Student Talent Search, aimed at identifying and rewarding scientific and mathematical talent, selected its High School Scholars from an applicant pool of nearly 2000 students.
“I was surprised because I thought so many people had better projects,” DiStefano said. “The topics were really interesting but also really advanced and well-developed.”
For his project, DiStefano developed a hydrogel that increased cell proliferation in wound care while simultaneously decreasing chances of nosocomial infection.
“Basically, I created a new way to improve wound healing that is faster and cheaper than alternatives while also protecting against hospital-acquired infections,” DiStefano said.
DiStefano began his project in June 2017, spent the summer and first semester of his junior year working on it and finished in January 2018. In addition to winning Regeneron, he won numerous other accolades with this project, including sixth place at the 2018 Florida State Science Fair.
“Something finally clicked, and I felt like all of the work I’ve been doing for the last four years finally paid off,” DiStefano said. “I spent summers in the lab or at internships instead of going out and enjoying [summer]. I love research, and it was finally all worth it.”
As a Regeneron High School Scholar, DiStefano now awaits Jan. 23, when Regeneron will name 40 finalists who will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete for over $1.8 million in awards. Finalists will also have a chance to present their projects to experts in the field and representatives of Congress.
“No matter what happens, I’m still really grateful,” DiStefano said. “This opportunity has definitely opened a lot of doors for things like college and internships, and I’m honored to have gotten this far.”