WARREN, NJ -- Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) Senior Daniel Lee of Watchung has been named one of the top 300 young scientists in the 76th annual Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS). 

WHRHS is one of 183 high schools across the U.S. and one of five comprehensive high schools in New Jersey to have a student selected for this honor. Lee will be awarded $2,000, and WHRHS will receive $2,000 to support excellence in science, math, and/or engineering education.

Lee plans to go to Washington D.C. on Saturday, March 12, where he will be able to meet many of his fellow 300 students who have been recognized, and to hear from some 40 fellow recipients whose papers were considered among the top 40.

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Lee, who has been a center on the WHRHS Varsity Ice Hockey team for four years, is one of the captains of the team. He is also President of the school's Math League and founder of the school's Neuroscience Club.  

WHRHS Principal George Alexis congratulated Lee for his achievements.

"Daniel is an exceptional young man,” Alexis said. “His commitment to scientific inquiry demonstrates the kind of authentic learning we aspire to as a school community. He brings the same type of commitment and enthusiasm to the ice hockey team and to local environmental initiatives. We're very proud of him."

Lee said he is committed to environmental awareness and clean water issues. 

“I have been a member of the Borough of Watchung Green Team for the past two years, where I help to organize environmental events for the town, including the weekly Farmers Market and the Annual Green Fair,” he said.

Lee said he is now working on possibly having his paper published in a scientific research publication. He said he is leaning toward pursuing studies in material science and applied physics while in college.

His research summarized

Lee conducted research at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL) in Princeton during the spring and summer of 2016.

“At PPPL, I studied electrical discharges in underwater gas bubbles,” he explained. “This process can be developed as a more comprehensive alternative to current water treatment techniques because plasma-based water treatment decomposes volatile organic compounds and sterilizes bacteria. In my research, I characterized several significant mechanisms of the discharge phenomena which have potential for improving energy efficiency and scalability of this form of water treatment which had not been studied previously.”

He began his research there as a volunteer intern last Spring two to three days a week until school ended in June. Thereafter, he obtained a paid internship at the lab, working eight hours a day, five days a week until school started up again in September.

Lee submitted the paper he produced from his research to two academic competitions: The Regeneron Science Talent Research, and the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. Lee was a semifinalist in the Siemen’s Competition and Lee’s application caught the eye of Regeneron. Lee said he was drawn to Regeneron because it takes a “holistic” approach, recognizing young scientists, both for their output and for their development as a scientist.

Regeneron selected Lee as one of 300 young scholars from among more than 1,700 applicants. According to the STS Web site, the applicants were selected "on the basis of their exceptional promise as scientists, excellent record of academic achievement, and outstanding recommendations from teachers and other scientists.” The students are conducting “independent science, math or engineering research.”

The Regeneron STS is a research-based science competition in the United States for high school seniors. It has been referred to as "the nation's oldest and most prestigious" science competition. Alumni have made extraordinary contributions to science and have earned many of the world’s most distinguished science and math honors, including 12 Nobel Prizes.

In his speech at the dinner honoring the 1991 Winners, President George H. W. Bush called the competition the "Super Bowl of science." The competition had previously been known as, first, the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, and then the Intel Science Talent Search.

Lee Thanks His WHRHS Teachers

Lee thanked his teachers at WHRHS who supported his exploration of scientific research and Physics.

"I would like to thank Dr. Sophia Gershman for playing an instrumental role in developing my interest in science and providing invaluable guidance and support during my internship at PPPL,” Lee said. “Dr. Gershman was my teacher for the previously-offered Experimental Research and Design course at Watchung Hills, a unique course which allowed students to learn research techniques and explore scientific subjects they were passionate about. I would also like to thank Mr. Brian Brown, my AP Physics teacher, for being an excellent educator and for encouraging me to pursue my interest in Physics."

Lee is the son of Howard and Sophia Lee and brother of Jacqueline Lee.