CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham High School senior Nishita Sinha has been named one of the top 300 young scientists of the 76th annual Regeneron Science Talent Search.

As an STS Scholar, Sinha will receive a $2,000 prize, and Chatham High School will also receive a $,2000 grant to further support science, math, and/or engineering education.

"Getting this award is very exciting, and it's also interesting to get to see the projects other students my age or younger are doing," Sinha said. "I'm constantly amazed by what these students are doing and it gives me a lot of hope and motivation to keep researching and trying to solve increasingly complex problems in college and beyond. I never really thought I was the 'research type,' but this project helped me realize that research doesn't just fit a certain mold - determination and a little curiosity is all anyone really needs to get started.”

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Sinha has been working with CHS Science teacher Dr. Yelena Naumova on her project called "Experimental Studies in Developing Safe Sanitation Solutions," which is aimed at improving sanitation conditions in rural areas around the world and protecting groundwater from pathogenic microorganisms.

“This project was really cool because I originally didn't think that I would be able to do something like this as a high schooler," Sinha said. "But, with the help and support of my mentors, especially Dr. Naumova, my parents, and the school, I was able to learn a lot about water treatment, waste-management, and the research process and also have a small positive impact on a few communities."

Sinha's mentor, Dr. Naumova, has worked with her throughout the process.

“Nishita is not the only high school student working on an independent project and participating in competitions," Naumova said. "What makes her unique is that she conceived this project entirely by herself. She researched the issue, proposed possible solutions, sought the resources and funding, and approached the university faculty with the clear research plan.

"I am impressed with all components of her project: a realistic objective to develop an efficient and economical solution for safe sanitation, sound methodology, the prototypes of the filtration system that Nishita designed and built, solid data analysis, clear future directions for expanding her research, and, not the least of all, potential social impact that this technology can have on people’s quality of life in developing countries.”

From among the 300 students recognized as STS Scholars, 40 finalists will be announced on Jan. 24. These finalists will attend the Regeneron Science Talent Institute in Washington, D.C. from March 9-15 to compete for $1.5 million in awards, including a $250,000 top prize.