Susan Wang ’22 Named Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar
When Susan Wang’s grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the standout science student took comfort in research. Her work, which she undertook in her free time while carrying a full course load and participating in many extracurriculars at Episcopal, has now garnered national attention.
Earlier this month, Wang was one of 300 students recognized as a 2022 Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. According to the STS website, “The Regeneron Science Talent Search provides students a national stage to present original research and celebrates the hard work and novel discoveries of young scientists who are bringing a fresh perspective to significant global challenges.”
Wang began studying computer science as a sophomore at Episcopal, and she quickly fell in love with the subject. In class and in her spare time, she dove into learning how to write code and develop algorithms in different programming languages like Python and R. Computer science, she explains, allows her to analyze the data she finds on neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.
Over the past two years, Wang has conducted an independent study with her mentor, her grandfather’s physician in China. She spent the summer of 2020 on weekly calls with him, learning how to analyze data sets she found about the human brain. “I want to understand what kind of disease it [Parkinson’s] is and how it affects patients’ cognition and motor abilities.” The result was her award-winning research project, titled “Single-Cell RNA Sequencing Analysis of Human Neural Grafts Revealed an Unexpected Cell Type Underlying the Genetic Risk of Parkinson’s Disease.”
Her ultimate goal? Wang hopes to help find cures for neurodegenerative diseases. “If we really want to cure a disease,” she says, “we need to know how it occurs.”
MIT-bound Wang plans to continue studying neuroscience, computer science, or perhaps biomedical engineering in college before eventually pursuing her PhD. “And it all started with my grandpa,” she said.