Chatham High School student Stephen Andrews won the Grand Prize at the Nokia NJ Research Science Fair, streamed virtually on Saturday, April 25th. Three other Chatham High School students presented their research projects at the science fair: Willy Chan, Mihir Rao, and Aidan West. All together, CHS students took home a total of nine awards.

 Andrews received six awards and was recognized as one of the overall winners. The awards include the ISEF Grand Prize, NJIT CPCP Academy Scholarship, 1st place in the category of Mathematics, Computing Award -  Honorable Mention, Journal of Emerging Investigators Finalist Award, and Mathematics Special Award. 

Andrews is the second Chatham student ever to win the Grand Prize. Normally, the Grand Prize winner travels to compete at the International Science and Engineering Fair (INTEL), which was supposed to take place in May in Anaheim, Calif. Due to the coronavirus crisis, the fair was cancelled this year. INTEL is the largest competition, internationally, for student science research projects. 

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Andrew’s project focused on sports analytics.

“I have been playing soccer my whole life and I also enjoy Math, so I decided to pursue a sports analytics project to understand the movement of soccer players from the mathematics and statistics perspective,” he said. “I study the statistical difference between goal and no-goal soccer possessions, and between pro and student players. I find that goal possessions are longer, faster and have more passes. In comparison to pros, high school players are more likely to lose the ball to the opponent. They are also less efficient because they tend to run towards the ball rather than in the direction the ball is moving.

"In addition, I discuss whether statistical evidence supports common tactics like long balls and switches. I finally use regression analysis to show that, in this dynamical system, the ball attracts players whereas players tend to repel each other. The most mathematical part of my project is using projective geometry to map coordinates of players on video frames to their coordinates on the field. I hope that my project will help amateurs learn to play more like pros.”

 Andrew's video presentation at the virtual fair is "open to the public" on the njrsf.org website. The link is here

”Stephen really knows and loves soccer, and has been using math and science to study various aspects of the game, Dr. Yelena Naumova, CHS science teacher and Research Club advisor, said. "In this project, Stephen used complex mathematical and statistical tools to understand the differences in the movement of professional and amateur players. It was great to see him use science and technology to solve a problem that he is really passionate about. Many congratulations, Stephen!”

 Willy Chan received two awards for his project, which focused on machine learning. These awards are as follows: 2nd place in the category of Engineering and Air Force Award.  

“I researched a way to improve the performance of machine learning neural networks by evaluating the effectiveness of image augmentation in the supervised learning process," Chan said. "By using traffic signs as a case study, I was able to determine that distorting, recoloring, and obstructing training images substantially improves Convolutional Neural Network performance. I then introduced audio and holographic display hardware that could relay the improved traffic sign detection back to drivers in real-time.”

Mihir Rao received the Air Force Award. He said, “My project focused on developing a method of early detection for a disease that impacts hundreds of millions of people globally, a large portion of whom go undiagnosed. Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is a retinal microvascular disease that occurs as a direct result of having diabetes, an extremely prevalent condition. When a patient has any stage of DR, excess glucose in their bloodstream has built up within their retinal blood vessels, leading to fluids and material leaking out of the bloodstream and into their retina in the form of microaneurysms.

"The symptoms of DR are very small and difficult for ophthalmologists to detect, especially in the early to middle stages of the condition...I chose to implement deep learning and convolutional neural networks to develop an automated computational model that could detect this disease from raw images of a patient's retina taken through fundus photography, providing a tool that can aid ophthalmologists in the diagnostics process.”

Aidan West’s project was titled "Exploration of Different Types of Hydrogels And Cells For Tissue Engineering Applications." Aidan explained, “I am investigating a couple of the various factors that are involved with implanting islet cells into hydrogels for islet transplantation. To put it in simpler terms, for the cells to be transplanted they must be contained in a 3D scaffold. This scaffold is called a ‘hydrogel,’ which is synthesized from various biomaterials, such as collagen. The problem with this method is that when cells are removed from their natural environment and embedded into the hydrogels, they will undergo massive cell death. Therefore, my project sought to investigate a couple of the factors involved in this process and what scientists can do to reduce the risk of cell death.”

Earlier in March, the same students also presented their projects at the North Jersey Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. 

“Congratulations to all Chatham students who presented their research at the Northern New Jersey Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and later at the North Jersey Regional Science Fair," Naumova said. "I am always amazed with the range of topics that students pursue and truly appreciate the time and effort that they put into completing their projects.”