NOAA award winners at the 2021 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair

NOAA’s ‘Taking the Pulse of the Planet’ Special Awards recognize excellence in NOAA mission science at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, which was held virtually this year.

Headshots of six high school students on a colorful background. Text on the image reads. NOAA 'Taking the Pulse of the Planet' Award winners at the 2021 Regeneron ISEF.
The 2021 winners of the NOAA 'Taking the Pulse of the Planet' Special Award at Regeneron ISEF. From left to right: First Award winners Melanie Quan and Yuchen Li, and Second Award winners Angela Chen, Shreya Khullar, Rithika Narayan, and Lila Schweinfurth. (Courtesy of Society for Science)

The Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) offsite link, organized by the Society for Science offsite link, is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Regeneron ISEF provides a platform for the best and brightest young scientists to showcase their science, technology, engineering, or math research. This year over 1,800 finalists from 64 countries, regions, and territories competed for over $5 million in awards and scholarships.

As a Special Award Organization offsite link, NOAA presented the ‘Taking the Pulse of the Planet’ awards, which recognize outstanding projects in ocean, coastal, Great Lakes, weather, and climate sciences from students in the United States. This is the 15th year that NOAA has offered these competitive awards.

This year’s winners:

First Award of $1,500

  • Melanie Elise Quan: Analysis of Plastic Pellet Distribution in the Environment Using Citizen Science Nurdle Patrol Data and Batch Identification to Differentiate Spills
  • Yuchen Li: Path Dependence of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation Weakening: A Geostrophic Shear Approach

Second Award of $500

  • Angela Chen: Assessing and Predicting Wildfire Severity in California Based on Relationships Between Wildfires and Drought Using Machine Learning
  • Shreya Khullar: Dendrochronological Data Analysis to Measure Climate Sensitivity and to Develop Paleoclimate Reconstructions
  • Rithika Narayan: Harnessing Deep Learning to Assess Coral Reef Health Through Crowd-sourced Efforts
  • Lila Schweinfurth: Developing a User Friendly System for Predicting Harmful Levels of Marine Biotoxins

“Congratulations to all winners of the Taking the Pulse of the Planet Award from NOAA at the 2021 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair,” said Maya Ajmera, President & Chief Executive Officer of the Society for Science and Publisher of Science News. “The students who competed in Regeneron ISEF this year conducted their research under unique circumstances, given the current pandemic. Their dedication to conducting scientific and engineering research gives me hope for the future.”