Focus on 2017 Regeneron Scholars Zhitong (John) Wang and Justin Kim
By CAROLINE CHEN
Zhitong (John) Wang
Computational Modeling of Neuronal Networks: Clarifying Neural Dynamics for Neuropathological Investigations
John’s research is on using computer modeling to study abnormal neuronal networks in schizophrenia. “Applications extend to virtual pharmacological testing systems, a model template for other diseases such as bipolar, and a reliable cross-validation tool for current in vivo and in vitro studies,” said John.
“The research course really impacted me on the way I think and comprehend information. The fact that we were encouraged to question established principles and investigate the unknowns with cutting-edge technology opened a new world for me,” said the Regeneron STS Scholar.
John has placed 1st in the Nassau County Science Competition in the Behavioral Science Competition, 2nd in Fair at NYSSEF Andromeda with this Behavioral Science project, and 3rd place at the WAC Lighting Invitational Science Fair. Outside of research, John is a drummer in a rock band and a lifeguard. He enjoys swimming, reading, and playing video games.
Tannic Acid and its Synthetic Derivatives for Enhanced b-Lactam Antibiotic Susceptibility Through b-Lactamase Inhibition
Justin’s research focuses on combating the immense worldwide problem of antibiotic resistance. “One major mechanism that bacteria have developed to resist antibiotics is the production of an enzyme called beta-lactamase, which has the ability to hydrolyze beta-lactam antibiotics. My research focused on investigating and developing novel inhibitors for beta-lactamase. Throughout two summers of research, I have identified tannic acid, a compound prevalent in black tea, as a novel beta-lactamase inhibitor and synthesized a chemical library of tannic acid derivatives, which exhibit enhanced lipophilicity and, theoretically, lessened side-effects. I hope that one day my compounds (tannic acid and its derivatives) can be implemented into the clinical setting,” said Justin.
Justin explained that he felt that research has “certainly been an excruciating experience.” “My classmates and I have been continuously sleep-deprived since the beginning of junior year and are now accustomed to 4-5 hour sleep schedules. Yet, through the suffering, research has also been a very rewarding experience. Accumulating knowledge lets you develop your own scientific niche, which, in my opinion, is the coolest part of research.”
Justin is a Regeneron STS Scholar and Siemens Competition National Semifinalist. Last year, Justin placed 1st place at LISEF and 3rd place at Intel ISEF 3rd place.
Outside of research, Justin enjoys listening to music (“any genre, but my favorite is R&B”), playing the cello, fencing, and participating in QuizBowl and VEX Robotics.