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Harrison High School Seniors Named Regeneron Scholars

Harrison High School Seniors Mai Blaustein, Katie Pflieger, and Keelan Vaswani have been named as top 300 scholars in the 81st Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and mathematics competition for high school seniors.

All three students are part of the high school Science Research Program and conducted original, independent resesrch.

Mai Blaustein: As a nationally ranked debater, Mai Blaustein devotes significant time and energy to exploring and addressing social issues in and outside the classroom. Her passion inspired her to pursue scientific research to help prevent sexual assault, an issue that impacts so many. Through her research, Mai was able to determine a new method for detecting date-rape drugs in drinks and based on the potential to develop an accessible detection device.

Katie Pflieger: Katie originally became interested in HIV research through a project for her 9th grade living environment class. Coupled with a passion for social justice she developed during an internship at a regional legal services non-profit, helped Katie realize she wanted to make a positive impact in the LGBTQ+ community through HIV research. Katie’s research could potentially represent a positive step towards developing an HIV vaccine.

 Keelan Vaswani: During the pandemic, Keelan noticed his peers were having a difficult time coping with stress and mental health related issues. He created and led an online mental health peer support server which attracted over 400 members. Keelan conducted research about the effect of negative self-talk on teenagers in relation to stress, anxiety, and depression and uncovered a system of thinking, called Cognitive Distortions, which describes individually generating thoughts or feelings that are negative, persuasive, and usually inaccurately based in reality. Ottawa Psychologist, Dr. Roger Covin, gave him permission to adapt the Types of Thinking Scale he developed to study college students for a younger population. Keelan’s research was the first to use this scale to study high school students.

In recognition of this achievement, each scholar will receive $2,000 and Harrison High School will also receive $2,000 per scholar to use toward STEM-related activities.