Highland Park High School student Kellen Svetov was named a semifinalist of the 71st annual Science Talent Search. The competition is sponsored by the Intel Corporation and Society for Science and the Public; its goal is to bring together the best and brightest young scientific minds in the United States to compete for $1.23 million in awards.
Svetov spent last summer completing protein crystallography research at Texas Tech University. The data is usually used when looking at Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. He then submitted his research, comprised of a series of essays, to the Science Talent Search, which awards individual student research.
“I really got to see the research process in its entirety both in terms of experimental design and publication,” Svetov said about his experience at Texas Tech. “There are more students than you realize conducting that type of research even at the high school level.”
There were 1,839 entries from students this year, which is the most the competition has seen in more than a decade. A total of 300 semifinalists were selected.
Svetov received a $1,000 scholarship as a result of being named a semifinalist. Another $1,000 was awarded to Highland Park High School to support science, math and/or engineering education. Svetov designated the funding be used to purchase physics equipment for Kunal Pujara’s science class.
“A lot of his demonstrations in labs were structured in a really clever matter where you could see the concept at play,” Svetov remembered of his experience in Pujara’s class. “He crafted this fun environment in which you wanted to learn more about physics.”
Svetov originally started conducting research on Alzheimer’s when his grandmother was diagnosed with the disease. He decided to expand his studies at Texas Tech when she passed away. He plans on continuing his research in a different field at Northwestern or the University of Chicago this summer. “I would like to see something more applicable to medicine itself. I’d like to do something that directly targets Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s,” he said about future plans.
“Given the technology that we have, I feel that it is a critical period in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research and as research is accelerating, I feel like we are
getting progressively closer to a cure for that.”