Weekly roundup: Irvine students make list of America’s top 300 teen scientists, Fullerton teen earns YoungArts Award, and more

2024 Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholars Banner

Three students from the Irvine Unified School District were recognized among the top 300 scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2024, with two of them earning the distinguished honor of being named among the top 40 finalists.

The Society for Science announced this prestigious recognition on Jan. 10, marking the students’ outstanding accomplishments in the nation’s oldest science and math competition for high school seniors. The diverse array of research projects this year covered topics such as artificial intelligence, climate change prevention, drug discovery and societal issues.

“We received a record-breaking number of applications this year,” Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of Society for Science, said. “I am truly impressed by the quality of the projects and the ingenuity that each student brings to the competition. Their diligence, passion and perseverance should be celebrated.”

The three seniors from Orange County are Howard Ji and Julianne Wu from University High School and Katherine Hua from Woodbridge High School. On Jan. 26, Howard and Julianne were named finalists in the top 40.

“It’s similar to winning the Oscars in movies,” David Knight, chair of the science department at University High, said. “It’s a big deal.”

Each of the scholars will be awarded $2,000 and their schools will receive a corresponding grant. Selected from a pool of 2,162 entrants spanning 712 high schools in 46 states, Puerto Rico and 10 other countries, the scholars demonstrated excellence in research, leadership, community involvement, academic commitment and creativity in posing scientific questions.

The Science Talent Search has been a launchpad for high school seniors dedicating extensive efforts to original research, with alumni achieving notable success in scholarships and prestigious accolades, including Nobel Prizes.

Here are the other stories we’ve been following this week:

Dr. Christopher Downing
  • Anaheim Elementary School District Superintendent Dr. Christopher Downing has announced plans to retire on June 30, marking the end of his 35-year career in education.
  • Westminster, Irvine and Arnold O. Beckman high schools were recognized as winners among the top 300 public schools nationwide in the 14th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM competition.
Troy High School students completed a Community Emergency Response Team training with the Fullerton Fire and Police Departments from Jan. 3 to Jan. 5. (Courtesy of Troy Preparedness Club)
  • A new after-school program open to students and parents at Truman Benedict Elementary in San Clemente is gaining attention for its name, according to the OC Register.
  • The California Faculty Association and California State University finalized a tentative agreement, ending a strike with a retroactive 5 percent raise from July 1, 2023 and a 5 percent salary increase for all 29,000 faculty members.
  • The state Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission released its semi-annual report, “Transformational Change Report,” this week, detailing community engagement efforts and progress on different initiatives surrounding youth mental health.

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