Students submit Siemens Competition research papers


Katherine Zhang

Regional finalists David Zhu (12) and Evani Radiya-Dixit (12) present their Siemens project at last year’s research symposium as moderator Richa Bhattacharya (11) looks on. David and Evani were two of 97 regional finalists last year.

by Katherine Zhang, Asst. STEM Editor

Students submitted research papers for the Siemens Competition, a national contest focused on independent science research, this Tuesday.

The competition offers high school students the opportunity to conduct independent research, report their findings and receive feedback from practicing scientists.

“The Siemens Competition encourages students to understand and complete the entire research cycle,” Upper School Science Department Chair Anita Chetty said. “I look at it more as a learning process than ‘will I win a prize,’ because not everyone can win. I think the real prize is having the opportunity to go through what a real, practicing scientist would do.”

Many participants conducted their research over the summer in labs, where they received guidance from mentors who were familiar with their project topic.

“My project has to do with the analysis of retinal scans and the diagnosis of eye disease, so I worked with ophthalmologists dealing with the sorts of diseases [that I was researching],” senior Rishab Gargeya said. “I asked for a lot of guidance in understanding the biological implications of these diseases.”

The Upper School science department also offered to pair students with Harker science teachers, who would serve as mentors and edit students’ papers during the writing process.

Junior Michael Kwan conducted his research in the University of California Santa Cruz’s linguistics lab, while also using Harker resources to help him write his paper.

“Using the past winning papers and advice supplied by Harker, all of my problems and struggles could be solved relatively well,” Michael said. “It resulted in a better paper than I could have written myself.”

A panel of scientists who are chosen by the competition will judge the papers and decide on 300 projects that will advance to the semifinal round. From there, ten projects will be chosen from each of six geographic regions to be regional finalists. Regional finalists will present their projects virtually to a panel of judges.

Presenting our project was a lot of fun and also challenging since it was virtual and we were simply speaking to a camera,” Evani Radiya-Dixit (12), one of last year’s regional finalists, said. “We had to make sure that we were effective and clear with the way we spoke since there were no in-person interactions.”

This year’s semifinalists will be announced on Oct. 18, and regional finalists will be announced the day after.