SHS Senior Jessie Liu Places Top 300 in the Nation for Science Research Talent Search

Liu presenting her project at the Genius Olympiad Science Research Competition.  She is excited to get to explore more of the science and medical fields in the future.

Jessie Liu

Liu presenting her project at the Genius Olympiad Science Research Competition. She is excited to get to explore more of the science and medical fields in the future.

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According to Cancer.gov, approximately 38.4% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life. There is no statistic on how many people will be indirectly affected by a loved one’s diagnosis, as the percentage would be all too high. Thanks to 21st-century technology and an abundance of researchers and doctors, however, there have been several advancements made in the realm of cancer research. Among these researchers is Scarsdale High School student Jessie Liu ’20. Liu is involved in the Science Research program here at SHS. Specifically, she has been working on creating a mobile app to help stage retinoblastoma cancer, a type of eye cancer. 

Liu’s project aims to diminish the comparison issue within staging retinoblastoma, which “has multiple different systems that are used to stage it and that has led to significant confusion in the literature from not being able to compare between different studies using different systems,” she explained. 

Her project earned her the recognition of being named one of 300 Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholars, out of around 2,000 applicants. According to the Society For Science, which runs the contest, the talent search “provides students a national stage to present original research and celebrates the hard work and novel discoveries of young scientists who are bringing a fresh perspective to significant global challenges.” 

Liu has devoted a significant amount of time to her project, especially since she had little experience in the coding field and had to learn in order to develop her app. “I had to find a bunch of online courses and then follow them throughout the summer. The first half of the summer I spent learning to code and then the second half I was actually coding the algorithms. And then the following year I was coding algorithms and continuing to learn to code,” explained Liu. 

Learning a new skill from scratch is a daunting task many would not dive into. This was only the beginning for Liu. To actually apply for the Talent Search would take a whole summer in itself. She described it as similar to applying to college. Liu explained that one needs to answer many essay questions, write a research paper, and receive teacher recommendations, among other criteria. She applied, the odds against her, and recalls thinking at the time, “I didn’t know that it could be possible that I might be one of them [finalists].” 

Results for the contest are coming in soon; “On Wednesday, I will be finding out if I’m a finalist. I don’t know if I will be, but it’s the top 40 and that’s just crazy,” said Liu. Being in the top 300 in the nation is an accomplishment in itself. Liu has been awarded $2,000, with SHS also receiving $2,000.  

Regardless of the final outcome, Liu plans on studying Biology and Chemistry in college and furthering her research in the medical field.