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Smithtown Central School District
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Way to go, Dylan!

January 10, 2024

Dylan did it!  Congratulations to Smithtown High School East senior Dylan Shen on being named a top 300 Scholar in the 83rd Regeneron Science Talent Search!

The Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS), a program of Society for Science, is the nation’s most prestigious pre-college science and mathematics competition. Established in 1942, it recognizes the best and brightest young scientists for demonstrating exceptional scientific leadership potential

Dylan's project titled, “A Novel Algorithm for Measuring Forest Incursions Using Pixelated Remote Sensing Data,” involved creating an original computer program which exploits a rolling disc methodology that efficiently and swiftly analyzed deforestation areas.

According to Dylan, “Forests are important for many reasons including habitat for animals, absorption of a greenhouse gas such as carbon dioxide, providing oxygen, and preserving soil erosion.  However, they are vulnerable to human activities that destroy the edges of the land or divide it into fragments which amplify detrimental effects. This program finds the edge of the forest based on satellite data and then characterizes it. The algorithm is extremely flexible in detecting different incursions, regardless of their shape or size. This computer-based approach is faster and more accurate than manually searching for incursions, especially when finding incursions of varying sizes. Restoring the area within incursions would reduce the chance of fragmentation and the associated detrimental effects on forest edges. Additionally, both the connected forest and restored area are less vulnerable to further damage. Using a satellite and computer-based approach to forest restoration will maximize the impact of already scarce resources.”

“I am so excited for Dylan to be recognized for his novel work," East Research Coordinator, Ms. Maria Zeitlin proudly said.
"It was a lot of effort and “thinking” to develop his idea. It highlights that science is not portioned into sections such as environmentalists or coders, but rather, it is a collaborative endeavor of discovery! This is our 23rd Scholar and each time it is so exciting.”

Dr. Stephanie O’Brien, Smithtown School District Science Director: “I am genuinely amazed by the outstanding caliber of research projects and the remarkable ingenuity that our students bring to this competition. The dedication, passion, and unwavering perseverance demonstrated by Dylan and all students who submitted their work is truly commendable and deserves to be celebrated."

Dylan will receive $2000 and be eligible for the finalist selection on January 24.Additionally, the sponsor school will receive $2000 to be used for the program.

Check out Dylan's reaction when he heard the news:

Dylan with Maria Zeitlin and Dr. Stephanie O'Brien