Two Qualify for International Science Fair

Two New Rochelle High School science research students have qualified to compete in the world’s largest high school STEM competition, the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) to be held in Los Angeles in May.

Junior Karun Kulamavalavan (left) and senior Imaad Uzun earned their entry for the prestigious event at the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair (WESEF) at Somers High School last month, which drew more than 700 participants from 42 Westchester and Putnam high schools.  

Competing in the fields of Plant Sciences and mathematics respectively, Karun and Imaad each earned the Grand Prize in their categories. Karun explored the effect of salt on seagrass, an important marine plant in restoring damaged habitats. 

Just 20 WESEF students advanced to ISEF where 1,800 science fair winners from more than 75 countries will compete for scholarships, tuition grants, internships, scientific field trips, and monetary awards. Imaad and Karun are the fifth and sixth New Rochelle High School students to ever qualify for ISEF.

The Science Research Program at New Rochelle High School is a three-year, college-level course where students research a topic of their choice. 

Imaad Uzum said his research this year reminded him of “the value of solving problems myself.” He was surprised by his WESEF win. “I was doubtful about it beforehand because I don’t know anyone who has gone to ISEF for math from WESEF, but it turns out doing a math project was a risk worth taking,” he said. The experience helped him decide to focus on math in college. 

“I’m feeling great about going to ISEF! I think more than anything, it’ll be a fun trip that will serve as a great experience to wrap up my high school career. I also look forward to meeting like-minded people from around the world and sharing my research with them.”

“I’m glad that my research is getting recognized because it was not a simple process,” said Karun. “I am excited for the future of our research program; by being able to carry this knowledge of developing an ISEF-worthy project I hope to help my peers, so we can have even greater ‘New Ro’ representation at ISEF next year!”

“Karun and Imaad exemplify that the sky’s the limit in New Rochelle Science Research,” said Jeff Wuebber, who teaches Science Research with Erica Curran. “We are equally proud of all New Rochelle students who competed at WESEF,” he said, noting that New Rochelle students garnered 40 awards. “No school at WESEF won more category awards than New Rochelle. Our students’ performance at WESEF is a testament to the excellence that our science students achieve here at New Rochelle High School. We are truly a premier Science Research Program in the nation.”