Shady Side Academy senior Steven D. Liu is one of only 40 national finalists in the 2022 Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation's oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. The honor identifies Liu among the nation's most promising young scientists or mathematicians. He is the only student from the Pittsburgh area among the finalists.
The 40 finalists were chosen based on their research projects' scientific rigor and their potential to become world-changing scientists and leaders. They were selected from the 300 Top Scholars named earlier this month. The top 300 were chosen from a pool of more than 1,800 highly qualified entrants, all of whom completed an original research project and extensive application process. See the list of finalists and projects here and read the finalist press release here.
As a finalist, Liu will participate in a weeklong competition from March 9-16, 2022, where he will undergo a rigorous judging process and compete for more than $1.8 million in awards. Finalists are each awarded at least $25,000, and the top 10 winners will receive awards ranging from $40,000 to $250,000 to advance their education and scientific research. The top 10 winners will be announced during a live-streamed awards ceremony on March 15.
Liu's original research project is titled "Techno-Economic Assessment of a Cost and Quality-Based Algal Biodiesel Production Process." The research was conducted as part of the Research Science Institute (RSI), a prestigious six-week summer program sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Education and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Liu participated in the RSI in the summer of 2021 and was mentored by Dr. Jean-Francois Hamel, of the MIT Chemical Engineering Department.
Liu also has been conducting research on algal biofuel for the past two years in SSA's McIlroy Center for Science & Innovation under the guidance of faculty advisor Dr. Devon Renock through SSA's Independent Study Program. That research won him a first-place award at the Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair and a third-place award at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in spring 2021 and helped him earn admission to RSI last summer.
"This RSI project was a follow-up project based on my prior research with Dr. Renock, where I looked at making biodiesel from algae physically in a laboratory," said Liu. "However, for the RSI project, I used a software simulation to scale up the production process to the factory level. Without guidance from Dr. Renock with my first project, this biodiesel simulation project would never have happened."
The Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS), a program of the Society for Science, provides students with a national stage to present original research and celebrates the hard work and novel discoveries of young scientists who are bringing a fresh perspective to significant global challenges. Program alumni include recipients of the world's most coveted science and math honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 22 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships.
Congratulations, Steven, and good luck in the finals week competition!