The Gatton Academy's News Archive
Sydney Wheeler Named a 2019 Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar
- Zack Ryle
- Thursday, January 24th, 2019
Gatton Academy student Sydney Wheeler (’19, Greenwood High School) has been named a 2019 Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar.
“I’m incredibly excited to be named a 2019 Regeneron Scholar,” states Wheeler. “To be included in a group of such amazing young scientists is a huge honor. My research work in perception and aging over the past 18 months has been one of the most rewarding experiences during my time at The Gatton Academy. The experiences in the lab throughout the school years and summer have shaped my understanding of science and research and encouraged me to continue to explore and investigate. I cannot express enough gratitude to those who’ve supported me and my research since I arrived at Gatton which includes my incredible research mentor, Dr. Farley Norman.”
Wheeler was one of 300 seniors in the nation to earn this recognition. The Regeneron Science Talent Search scholars were selected from 1,818 applicants. The scholars were selected based on their exceptional research skills, commitment to academics, innovative thinking and promise as scientists.
“Sydney Wheeler is simply an extraordinary young woman. Her recognition as a Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar is a wonderful acknowledgement of her hard work and academic dedication,” stated Lynette Breedlove, Director of The Gatton Academy. “Sydney pursues excellence in everything she does. Not only is she a remarkable researcher and student, she is an exceptional leader and community member.”
The Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists are engaged in trailblazing scientific research that addresses some of our most urgent global challenges. This year, research projects cover topics from space science to bioinformatics to environmental science. Sydney’s research, "Visio-Haptic Shape Matching: Using Salient Gaussian Features to Identify Object Shape," was mentored by Dr. Farley Norman, Western Kentucky University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. Their research investigates how accurately humans can identify different object shapes using the senses of vision and touch. In the given experiment, participants matched objects they felt under a table to objects which they could see on the top of the table. The results showed that the human ability to identify object shape varies widely across the object types. Findings from this line of research can be applied to artificial systems that are neutrally-controlled, such as emergent technologies in prosthetics.
“As the most prestigious STEM competition for high school students, The Gatton Academy is positively thrilled by Sydney’s selection,” stated Cheryl Kirby-Stokes, Academic Opportunities Coordinator at The Gatton Academy. “Sydney began her research with Dr. Farley Norman during her first semester at Gatton and she accelerated her work during summer 2018 after receiving the Gatton Research Internship Grant, a program offering grants to Gatton Academy students between their junior and senior years to support summer research internships at WKU, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and beyond. Sydney and I have been working since June on both her research paper and her Regeneron application. She is truly a delight to work with, and I’m happy I had the chance to get to know her and her research better through the application process. I have no doubt that someday I’ll be saying ‘I knew her when…’.”
In 2017, Regeneron became only the third sponsor (alongside Intel and Westinghouse) of the Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. As part of its 10-year, $100 million commitment, Regeneron nearly doubled the overall award distribution to $3.1 million annually to better reward the best and brightest young minds. Each of the 300 scholars and their schools will be awarded $2,000.
“Regeneron is thrilled to partner with Society for Science & the Public to celebrate the 300 Science Talent Search scholars,” said Hala Mirza, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Citizenship at Regeneron. “We are inspired by their curiosity and passion for discovery, and congratulate them on their work and dedication. We hope the Regeneron Science Talent Search shows young people everywhere that they can change the world through STEM.”
Society for Science & the Public founded the Science Talent Search in 1942, providing a national stage for the country’s best and brightest young scientists to present original research to nationally recognized professional scientists. Science Talent Search alumni have gone on to receive more than 100 of the world’s most esteemed science and math honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes, 11 National Medals of Science, two Fields Medals, and 18 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships.
“We are delighted to honor this year’s Regeneron Science Talent Search scholars,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of Society for Science & the Public and publisher of Science News. “These brilliant students have already made remarkable scientific achievements at a young age, and we are eager to see where their scientific journeys take them next.”
For more information about The Gatton Academy, visit www.wku.edu/academy or call (270) 745-6565.
For the full list of scholars, please visit https://student.societyforscience.org/regeneron-sts-2019-scholars.
About Regeneron: Regeneron is a leading science and technology company delivering life-transforming medicines to people with serious diseases. Founded and consistently led by physician-scientists, our science-focused approach has resulted in four FDA-approved medicines and numerous product candidates to treat eye-diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, atopic dermatitis, pain, cancer and infectious diseases. Regeneron is a company founded with the goal of transforming lives through science and its most important social commitment has been to support the development of highly engaged, well-trained, and innovative young thinkers. STEM education is at the heart of its corporate citizenship efforts, representing more than ninety percent of its citizenship investments. Regeneron seeks to attract more students to science careers and is committed to ensuring a continual pool of STEM talent.
About Society for Science & the Public: The Society for Science & the Public founded and produces the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. For decades, the Society has offered many of the most revered science competitions in the world: Regeneron Science Talent Search, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars).
About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential two-year STEM program for gifted and talented junior and seniors. Students at The Gatton Academy enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers. The Gatton Academy has been named to The Washington Post’s list of top-performing schools with elite students for nine consecutive years and was named the number one public high school in the United States by The Daily Beast for three consecutive years – 2012, 2013 and 2014.