Aayush Karan ’19 Named One of 40 Regeneron Finalists

Congratulations to Aayush Karan ’19, who was one of just 40 high school seniors nationwide to be named a Regeneron Science Talent Search Finalist. Regeneron Science Talent Search is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition, founded and produced by the Society for Science and the Public.

For his project, titled “Generating Set for Nonzero Determinant Links Under Skein Relation,” Karan spent the summer of 2018 working on an open question posed almost 30 years ago in the field of knot theory. By implementing a novel approach, he was able to reinterpret the inherently geometric problem through the lens of algebra and prove his main theorems with a combinatorial argument. The results offer a highly efficient method to compute nonzero link determinant invariants, which play a big role in the modern understanding of knot theory.

“Knot theory has applications in the study of DNA and of chemical structures because they have the same knot structure,” said Karan. “I worked really hard over the summer to get this project ready, so I was excited to be named a scholar. Regeneron is a huge and prestigious organization, so it’s pretty cool to be recognized by it.”

“In AP Biology, Aayush has demonstrated a penchant for asking deeper, more penetrating questions,” said Robert Heun, Upper School science teacher and Upper School Science Department chair. “He is always looking to further his understanding of a topic, which certainly relates well to his exceptional work on this project. He has really impressed his classmates, and his teammates on the Science Quiz Bowl team, with his ability to solve difficult verbal math problems quickly and accurately.”

Throughout the process Karan was mentored by a professor at MIT under PRIMES-USA (Program for Research In Mathematics, Engineering, and Science), in which high school juniors work with MIT researchers on unsolved problems in mathematics.

The Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists were selected from the 300 students named as Scholars. Scholars were selected from 1,964 applications received from 601 high schools in 48 states, two U.S. territories, and eligible students living in seven other countries.

The finalists were selected based on their scientific research and also on their overall potential as future leaders of the scientific community. This year, research projects cover topics from bioengineering to environmental science to physics.

Karan, along with the other finalists, will travel to Washington, D.C. in March to undergo final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists, and compete for $1.8 million in awards. Each finalist will receive a minimum $25,000 award, with a top award of $250,000.

“Regeneron congratulates this year’s Science Talent Search scholars, who have applied deep curiosity and rigorous research skills to the important scientific questions of today,” said Hala Mirza, senior vice president of corporate communications and citizenship at Regeneron. “These students are the future leaders of tomorrow and are using innovative thinking to improve our world. We hope their achievements will inspire other young people to engage with STEM.”

“These amazing young people have demonstrated an exceptional degree of hard work and passion for discovery. We are inspired by their brilliant thinking, and look forward to continue supporting them in their scientific endeavors,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of Society for Science & the Public and Publisher of “Science News.” “We are thrilled to partner with Regeneron to celebrate this year’s Science Talent Search scholars.”
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