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Exoplanet hunting, HIV-fighting and math garner big prizes for teens

Forty finalists competed for more than $2 million in awards at the 2019 Regeneron Science Talent Search

Ana Humphrey (center), Samuel Weismann (left) and Adam Ardeishar (right) took home first, second and third place in the 2019 Regeneron Science Talent Search.


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Unsolved mysteries fascinate many of us. It’s why we watch crime shows and read mystery novels. Scientists get fascinated by unsolved mysteries, too. The top three winners in the 2019 Regeneron Science Talent Search all took on their own unsolved mysteries. One hunted for planets in other solar systems that may have snuck past big telescopes. Another uncovered hiding places where HIV — the virus that causes AIDS — likes to lurk. A third, frustrated by an “unsatisfying” answer, tackled a complicated math problem.

Ana Humphrey, 18, took home $250,000 and first prize. Samuel Weissman, 17, won second place and $175,000. Adam Ardeishar, 17, came in third, winning $150,000. “Looking at today’s finalists and thinking about the students to come, I know we are in good hands,” says Maya Ajmera. “I am thrilled that, together with Regeneron, we are able to continue this competition, now in its 78th year, and provide these young people with a platform to showcase their science.” Ajmera is president and chief executive officer of Society for Science and the Public. This organization created the Science Talent Search in 1942 and still runs the competition.

Each year, the Science Talent Search brings together 40 students from across the United States. They show their science projects to the public and face a panel of judges as they compete for more than $2 million in prizes. The Science Talent Search is sponsored by Regeneron, a company that develops medicines for diseases such as cancer.

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