Harriton High School senior Ravi Balasubramanian has been named a Top 300 Scholar in the 79th Regeneron Science Talent Search - the nation's oldest and most prestigious science and mathematics competition for high school seniors.
Ravi's submission was titled, "Volvox barberi flocks, forming near-optimal, two-dimensional, polydisperse lattice packings."
Volvox barberi are multicellular green algae that form colonies of 10,000 to 50,000 cells. The algae form the colonies by actively "flocking" together in structures that have lattice angles and other features similar to crystals. Balasubramanian analyzed the flocking behavior with a computer simulation and found the algae formed closely packed arrangements that make optimal use of space. He also placed a dye tracer in the Volvox medium and showed that the colonies generated hydrodynamic vortices as they rotated that may produce the forces which they use to flock.
For his work, Balasubramanian will receive $2,000. Harriton High School will also receive $2,000 to use toward STEM-related activities. Balasubramanian has been accepted to Yale University for the fall.
Nearly 2,000 students entered the competition this year from 659 high schools and 49 states. On January 22, 2020, Regeneron will name the competition's Top 40 finalists, who will each received $25,000 and be invited to Washington, D.C., for the final competition in March, where the top award is $250,000.
Last year, Sam Weissman, another Harriton High School student, placed 2nd in the contest, winning $175,000 for his HIV research.