Pittsburgh Allderdice senior recognized in prestigious science competition

A Pittsburgh Allderdice High School student was named a scholar in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, which is considered the oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.

Hannah Barsouk, 17, was among 300 students recognized by Regeneron and Society for Science. Scholars earn a $2,000 award, with an additional $2,000 awarded to the school.

Janet Waldeck, a science teacher at Allderdice, has had Barsouk in classes for two years. She said Barsouk “pursues scientific research the way an Olympic athlete trains for a sport.”

Barsouk, a senior, earned the recognition with a project titled “Cross-Species Complementation Experiment Exploring the Role of Mammalian ALPHA-Arrestins in Glucose Transporter Trafficking.”

“Hannah works on trying to understand how a cell controls what comes in. It’s called protein trafficking,” Waldeck explained. “It’s like a police officer at an intersection directing traffic. If a cell makes a protein, how does it know where to send those proteins? Who decides where they’re going to go? How does a cell know to change the traffic patterns to get what it needs?”

Barsouk’s research focuses on how this process works in humans, Waldeck said. It could have applications in diabetes and cancer treatments.

“She’s definitely going to college to be a research scientist,” Waldeck said.

This year’s Regeneron Science Talent Search scholars were selected from 1,760 applicants. Scholars represent 198 American and international high schools in 37 states, Puerto Rico, Chinese Taipei and Singapore.

On Jan. 21, 40 of the 300 scholars will be named finalists. Finalists will then compete for more than $1.8 million in awards provided by Regeneron.

“It’s a huge honor,” Allderdice Principal James McCoy said. “It says a lot about Hannah. She’s committed to everything she does academically, and with things outside of school. She’s an ultimate team player in the sense that she’s accomplished so many things herself, but she’s always looking to help others. We’re proud to have her here.”

McCoy said a few other Allderdice students have been recognized through the program over the last few years. He said it’s a testament to the students and the science department.

While Barsouk was honored for her scientific research, Waldeck said she’s a well-rounded student who is involved in a variety of clubs.

“She’s a leader. When she’s in the classroom, I feel like she’s my right-hand man. Kids look at her with respect,” Waldeck said.

Alumni of this prestigious program have gone on to earn coveted science and math honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes, 11 National Medals of Science, six Breakthrough Prizes, 21 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and two Fields Medals.

“An exceptional group of student leaders and innovators comprise this year’s Regeneron Science Talent Search scholars, with an array of projects that demonstrate the power of science,” Hala Mizra, senior vice president of corporate communications and citizenship at Regeneron, said. “We are honored to celebrate the next generation of young scientists and inventors who can elevate the STEM community and our broader society through their high-quality research and novel discoveries. These are the inspiring problem solvers who will help address the current and future challenges facing our world.”

Julia Felton is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Julia at 724-226-7724, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Education | Local | Pittsburgh

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