Upper school science department holds annual Synopsys and Regeneron informational meeting


Vika Gautham

Students listen as Mrs. Chetty walks through the Synopsys guidelines. The informational meeting for the Synopsys fair and Regeneron Science Talent Search research competitions took place on Friday in the Nichols Auditorium.

by Sidak Sanghari and Vika Gautham

Upper school science department head Anita Chetty and research teacher Chris Spenner held the Synopsys and Regeneron informational meeting for students in the Nichols Auditorium on Friday at 3:10 p.m.

The meeting covered important dates and deadlines, guidelines for submitting proposals and mentorships for the Synopsys science fair. Chetty began by addressing non-RRI [regulated research institution] projects, which are done by students either at home or at school where they have access to resources and a lab. She then talked to students doing RRI projects, which are completed with an outside lab or organization. 

Synopsys is a competition where students conduct their independent STEM-based research and work to answer questions based on their analysis. The Regeneron Science Talent Search follows a similar structure but is strictly RRI and limited to upper school seniors. While there is no set date for Synopsys yet, it will take place sometime in March; it is also not decided whether Synopsys will be in-person or not. However, students are still required to follow regular procedures in order to complete their projects. 

Chetty also introduced Open Lab as a way for students to carry out their research at school. Harker provides all students with the ability to use the given facilities that reside at the school.   

“If you’re thinking, I want to do a project at Harker… then that means that you’re going to need to do what we call Open Lab,” Chetty said. “Open Lab is a great opportunity that we’ve set up for you. You’re going to be able to work in the research lab after school as an extracurricular activity under the supervision of a teacher, who is not directly engaged in your project.”

Upper school science department head Anita Chetty highlights important dates on the Synopsys guidelines and instructions document on Schoology. Students can join the Science Research Competitions and Internships Group to access all the necessary information. (Vika Gautham)

Pavitra Kasthuri (9) previously participated in Synopsys in middle school, where she and a friend created Orbis, an artificial intelligence device used to detect patient monitors and other medical devices. Pavitra looks forward to exploring new topics this year and using her previous experience in Synopsys to have the best outcome.

“I think that Synopsys, or my take-aways for it, tie into my takeaways for highschool,” Pavitra said. “Time-management, organization, responsibility — I think that because I get so much freedom with Synopsys, it’s really important to have personal accountability, and of course integrity, and also making sure that my writing, my project, my data is all consistent.”

The upper school has been participating in Synopsys and Regenron for as long as Spenner has taught at the upper school, which is 16 years. At the beginning, fewer students participated in the competitions, but now, an average of 50 to 70 students participate each year. 

“[Synopsys has happened for] as long as I’ve been here,” Spenner said. “I moved to teaching the research classes and helping and actually running Synopsys completely 12 years ago, and then I kind of backed away from it, and Ms. Chetty has been doing more.”

Spenner hopes that students see these science research competitions as a chance to explore different fields of sciences, as opposed to students doing it solely for recognition of achievements or awards.

“Do it for the right reasons,” Spenner said. “I mean, no real scientist goes into science because they want a Nobel Prize. They do it because they care about the work they’re doing. So do it because you’re doing a project that you care about.”