WARREN, NJ - Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) Senior Jagdeep Bhatia, 17, of Green Brook Township has been selected as one of 40 finalists nationwide in the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2020.

The announcement of the 40 finalists was made on Monday, Jan. 20, in Tarrytown, N.Y., and Washington, D.C., by Science Talent Search sponsors, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) and Society for Science & the Public (the Society).

Bhatia’s project title is: “Simple and Fast Algorithms for Interactive Machine Learning with Random Counter-Examples.” 

Sign Up for North Plainfield/Green Brook/Watchung Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Bhatia explained that while the current processes of training machines – what is generally thought of as ‘Artificial Intelligence’ – those processes now tend to be slow, requiring a lot of data.

“My project tries to solve that,” he said, “tries to make the whole process more data efficient. My proposal asserts that there is a more data efficient way to train machines. I attempt to prove that assertion, using mathematical proofs. The whole point is to find a way to make the learning process for machines more like human learning.”

He said he plans to study Computer Science and machine learning in college, but is undecided yet about whether he plans to pursue a Ph.D. or other advanced scholarship in computer Science, or build his knowledge and expertise in Computer Science to then apply that preparation in an applied or business use. 

For the short term, he is very excited to have been selected by the Science Talent Search, and is looking forward to meeting his fellow search finalists in Washington, D.C.

“I am really excited and grateful to have this wonderful opportunity,” said Bhatia. “I am really excited to present my work in Washington, D.C., and meet the other finalists.”

While at WHRHS, he has been President of the Computer Science Club, which has included, among other things, helping to organize and stage the WHRHS “HillsHacks” Hackathons the last couple of years. In addition, he is president of the WHRHS Math Team, and a four-year athlete on the WHRHS Cross Country Team.

The Regeneron Science Talent Search 2020 is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. Alumni have gone on to have world-changing careers in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) fields and earn some of the most esteemed academic honors, including the Nobel Prize, the Fields Medal, the National Medal of Science, the MacArthur Fellowship and even an Academy Award.

The 2020 finalists were selected from 1,993 highly qualified entrants, all of whom completed an original research project and extensive application process. Earlier this month, the Society and Regeneron named the top 300 scholars. The finalists were selected based on their projects’ scientific rigor and their potential to become world-changing scientists and leaders.

Finalists’ projects span a diversity of STEM-related topics including targeting cancer via signaling pathways, developing a mobile application for stroke diagnosis using deep learning and computer vision, and identifying an improved method for trace level arsenic quantification in water.

The finalists will travel to Washington, D.C. from Thursday, March 5 to Wednesday, March 11, where they will undergo a rigorous judging process and compete for more than $1.8 million in awards. They will also have an opportunity to interact with leading scientists, meet with Members of Congress and display their projects to the public on Sunday, March 8.

The finalists are each awarded at least $25,000, and the top 10 awards range from $40,000 to $250,000. The top 10 Regeneron Science Talent Search 2020 winners will be announced at a black-tie gala awards ceremony at the National Building Museum on Tuesday, March 10. In total, more than $3 million in awards will be distributed throughout the Regeneron Science Talent Search, which includes the awards to finalists as well as the $2,000 provided to each of the top 300 scholars and their schools.

Next Generation Of Brilliant Minds

“This year’s finalists are part of the next generation of brilliant minds who – through the pursuit of science and innovation – can address many of society’s most urgent challenges and help improve our world,” said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., Co-founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron and a Science Talent Search top winner (1976). “These students are joining a community of highly talented STS alumni who have gone on to make incredible contributions to their chosen fields and our society. If one, two or even a handful of these impressive young scholars make discoveries that impact our world, that could make all the difference.”

“The Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists are the stewards of our future,” said Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of Society for Science & the Public, Publisher of Science News and 1985 Science Talent Search alum. “These finalists are the top young scientists of our country today and they give me great hope for what lies ahead.”

Regeneron Science Talent Search 2020 Fast Facts

• The Regeneron Science Talent Search 2020 finalists are from 35 schools in 21 states. They are competing for more than $1.8 million, with a top prize of $250,000.

• Forty finalists were selected from 300 scholars and nearly 2,000 entrants based on the originality and creativity of their scientific research, as well as their achievement and leadership both inside and outside of the classroom.

• Finalist projects cover disciplines of science including animal science, behavioral and social sciences, bioengineering, cellular and molecular biology, chemistry, computational biology and bioinformatics, computer science, engineering, environmental science, genomics, materials science, mathematics, medicine and health, physics, plant sciences and space science.

For a list of this year’s finalists, visit https://www.societyforscience.org/regeneron-sts/2020-finalists/.

In addition to its sponsorship of the Science Talent Search, in December 2019, Society for Science & the Public announced Regeneron as the new title sponsor of the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), a global competition for high school students where nearly 2,000 young scientists from 80 countries, regions and territories compete on a world stage.

About the Regeneron Science Talent Search

The Regeneron Science Talent Search, a program of Society for Science & the Public since 1942, is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. Each year, around 2,000 student entrants submit original research in critically important scientific fields of study and are judged by leading experts in their fields. Unique among high school competitions in the U.S. and around the world, the Regeneron Science Talent Search focuses on identifying, inspiring and engaging the nation’s most promising young scientists who are creating the ideas that could solve society’s most urgent challenges.

In 2017, Regeneron became only the third sponsor of the Science Talent Search as a way to help reward and celebrate the best and brightest young minds and encourage them to pursue careers in STEM as a way to positively impact the world. Through its 10-year, $100 million commitment, Regeneron nearly doubled the overall award distribution to $3.1 million annually, increasing the top award to $250,000 and doubling the awards for the top 300 scholars and their schools to $2,000 each to inspire more young people to engage in science.

Program alumni include recipients of the world’s most coveted science and math honors, including 11 National Medals of Science, five Breakthrough Prizes, 21 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, two Fields Medals and 13 Nobel Prizes.


For more information, go tohttps://www.societyforscience.org/regeneron-sts/.

About Society for Science & the Public

Society for Science & the Public is dedicated to the achievement of young scientists in independent research and to public engagement in science. Established in 1921, the Society is a nonprofit whose vision is to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. 

Through its world-class competitions, including the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, the Broadcom MASTERS, and its award-winning magazine, Science News and Science News for Students, Society for Science & the Public is committed to inform, educate, and inspire. Learn more at www.societyforscience.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (Society4Science).

About Regeneron

Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN) is a leading biotechnology company that invents life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases. Founded and led for over 30 years by physician-scientists, our unique ability to repeatedly and consistently translate science into medicine has led to seven FDA-approved treatments and numerous product candidates in development, all of which were homegrown in our laboratories. Our medicines and pipeline are designed to help patients with eye diseases, allergic and inflammatory diseases, cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, infectious diseases, pain and rare diseases.

Regeneron believes that operating as a good corporate citizen is crucial to delivering on our mission. We approach corporate responsibility with three goals in mind: to improve the lives of people with serious diseases, to foster a culture of integrity and excellence and to build sustainable communities. Regeneron is proud to be included on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and the Civic 50 list of the most “community-minded” companies in the United States. Throughout the year, Regeneron empowers and supports employees to give back through our volunteering, pro-bono and matching gift programs. Our most significant philanthropic commitments are in the area of science education, including the Regeneron Science Talent Search and Regeneron ISEF.