Manhasset Secondary School senior Ella Wesson was named a finalist in the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2020. She is the second student from Manhasset Secondary School to be named a national finalist in the competition.
“It was an honor. It was shock,” Wesson said as she found out while studying for a physics test.
Wesson was one of only 40 students in the country to be invited to Washington, D.C. as a finalist. She will travel to the capital from March 5 to 11, where she will showcase her research and compete for $1.8 million in awards.
“I never even imagined that I would have the chance to compete in the top-40,” Wesson said. “I’m really motivated now to win, but I think that even if I don’t, the real prize will be getting to spend time with such amazing people.”
Her project “Engineering One Layer of a Two-Dimensional Acoustic Band Gap Matieral and Reconstructing the Sound Pressure Field Using Acoustic Holography” involved recording the movement of sound waves by creating hologram imaging to develop applications.
“I played a sound and I projected those sound waves through balloon filled with different gases and the different gases within those balloons changes the sound,” Wesson said. “One of them, makes them go really fast. One of them makes it go really slow. Based on the data, I could create these holograms, which basically show a representation of what the sound waves might have looked like at the time that was playing the sound.”
Alison Huenger, research coordinator and teacher at Manhasset Secondary School, guided Wesson through the process. Wesson also spent the summer going to New York University (NYU) working with professor of physics and director of the Center for Soft Matter Research David Grier on her project.
“I am ecstatic for Ella,” Huenger said. “Being recognized as a scholar and finalist is not only a testament to her science research ability, it is a validation of her work ethic and overall academic achievement. I am extremely proud of Ella’s growth as a young scientist over the past four years, and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for her.”
On Jan. 8, Wesson was named a Regeneron scholar and semifinalist along with fellow classmates Kevin Carratu, Kevin Gauld and Elizabeth Wu. Wesson is one of just four students from Long Island to be named a finalist.
Wesson does not know where she will be going to college next year, but she plans on studying public health.
“I think that public health is a really good way of bringing science into the humanities and combining them and making the world a better place,” Wesson said.