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Sleepy Hollow High School Student Named STS Scholar

The Public Schools of the Tarrytowns congratulates senior Maya Weitzen on her selection as a scholar in the Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) competition.

The STS is the nation's oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for seniors. This year, students from across the nation submitted 1760 research papers and Maya is one of just 300 students selected for this honor. 

“I had been hopeful leading up to the press release but shocked by the results,” said Maya. “This honor doesn’t happen very often, and I was absolutely ecstatic to be chosen from a group of my peers.”

Maya's research paper is entitled, "High-throughput discovery and validation of cancer-testis (CT) antigen and neoantigen HLA-presented peptides in non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLC)".  

Maya studied data from cancerous cell lines and tumors to discover effective, novel targets for potential immunotherapies.

Enrolled in the Advanced Science Research Program at SHHS with teachers David Erenberg and Michele Zielinski since her sophomore year, Maya has also served as an intern with Regeneron in its Therapeutic Proteins department.

"The STS Scholars Program is truly the Nobel Prize for high school science researchers,” said Erenberg. “What Maya has done is impressive and I have seen her project grow from tenth grade until now. Many scholars who have entered this program eventually go on to become leading scientists and CEOs within the scientific community. They are motivated individuals and Maya is one of the most motivated students we have ever taught in the district.”

Her research potentially could be used to develop immunotherapy treatments for lung cancer and other cancers. Maya continued: “This is real-world applicable. Right now we are in a revolution of cancer treatment, and targeted immunotherapy has the potential to significantly impact the lives of so many.”  

Maya chose this topic following her own experience suffering from Crohn’s disease. She was diagnosed in fifth grade and said her own personal experience with immunotherapy changed her life.

 "It made me recognize the importance of scientific pioneering and advancement as there are faces behind the statistics. The Science Research Program offers the opportunity for high school students to embark on something meaningful, and I knew I wanted to make the same impact through science that others had made on me,” said Maya.

Maya wants to pursue a STEM curriculum in college and then attend medical school. She hopes to continue researching throughout her academic and professional career.

Regeneron will now choose 40 scholars from among the 300 to move onto the next phase of the competition. 

Zielinski and Erenberg express their gratitude to Maya's mentors who helped her achieve this success. SHHS students are in need of mentors in all fields of research.  If you are interested in mentoring a student, please email Michele Zielinski at mzielinski@tufsd.org or David Erenberg at derenberg@tufsd.org.