Shah Named First Regeneron STS Scholar In Bethpage High School History

Bethpage High School Senior Smiti Shah Named a 2018 Regeneron STS Scholar
Smiti Shah, a senior at Bethpage High School, has been recognized as a Regeneron Science Talent Search 2018 Scholar. The prestigious honor is also a landmark for the school, as Shah is the first Bethpage student to achieve this recognition since the inception of the school’s science research program in 2011.  

According to its website, the Regeneron STS (formerly the Intel STS) is a program of the Society for Science and the Public that recognizes and empowers the most promising young scientists in the U.S. who are creating the ideas and solutions to solve our most urgent challenges. This program is considered to be the nation’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition for high school students.

An overwhelmed Shah expressed her gratitude for the honor.

“I’m really fortune to have been named a Scholar,” she said. “It feels so good to be rewarded for all of my effort and hard work – it’s unbelievable, really.” 

Shah was introduced to the program in the eighth grade at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair, where science research teacher Chris Pollatos encouraged her to enter the competition. 

“While at [LISEF] in eighth grade, Mr. Pollatos told me, ‘2018 Intel or bust,’” recalled Shah. “When I entered Mr. Pollatos’ class as a freshman, he gave me an Intel STS sticker that I placed on my desk…I looked at it for four years determined to become a Scholar in the program.” 

Shah’s winning research took root in the summer of 2016, when she interned at a Hofstra University laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Roche deGuzman. She focused her research on creating an environmentally friendly filter for third-world countries that uses solar energy to generate clean water. With perseverance and continuous support from Pollatos and deGuzman, Shah submitted her project, “Efficient Nano-Based Water Filter: A Novel Application of Biosynthesized Silver Nanoparticles (AgNP) and Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Ink with Applied Electrical Current.” 

Each of the 300 Scholars received a $2,000 award from Regeneron with a matching donation to his or her school. A total of $1.2 million in Scholar awards is granted to inspire more young people to engage in science. Forty of these Scholars will be announced as finalists on Jan. 23, and the finalists will be invited to Washington, D.C., in March to participate in final judging, have their work on public display, meet with notable scientists and compete for awards, including the top prize of $250,000.

“Being the first person in Bethpage School District history to receive this honor is mind-blowing, let alone being selected out of more than 1,800 students nationally,” remarked Pollatos. “Smiti has always been determined and proactive, and that’s why she became an STS Scholar. She saw something, went for it and made things happen, which undoubtedly put her over the top.”  

Shah’s passion for science goes beyond research. As captain of her school’s robotics team, the Regal Eagles, she devotes countless hours before and after school and on the weekends to preparing for the upcoming competition season with her team. Last year, Shah led the Regal Eagles to their first appearance at the national-level FIRST Robotics Competition in more than 10 years.

She is also a member of her school’s Spanish and National honor societies, Mathletes and Astronomy Club, and participates in math competitions. 

Outside of school, Shah has interned at the New York Academy of Sciences and currently oversees more than 700 international students as president of its Junior Academy. While interning, she was invited to the Gates 2016 Annual Letter event, where she spoke with Bill and Melinda Gates and award-winning author John Green. 

In addition, Shah was recently invited to speak at the World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship to Fortune 500 leaders in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning about the generational divide between conversations regarding humans and machines.

Along with these exceptional achievements, Shah was named an AP Scholar with Distinction by the College Board and a Commended Student in the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship Program. 

As for her postsecondary plans, Shah wants to major in some form of engineering and management.  

“The entire district is proud of Smiti and her accomplishments,” said Bethpage Superintendent of Schools Terrence Clark. “Her passion for science is remarkable, but even more telling is how she focuses her research on ways to improve the lives of others. Her winning research is designed to ensure that people in developing nations have access to clean drinking water, which has to be one of the most important global issues of our time.”