Pittsburgh Allerdice senior earns prestigious science prize

Pittsburgh School District  |  Posted on

Pittsburgh Allerdice senior Hannah Barsouk is one of 300 top scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2021.

Pittsburgh Allderdice senior Hannah Barsouk is one of 300 top scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2021, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.

Hannah earned the recognition with a project titled “Cross-Species Complementation Experiment Exploring the Role of Mammalian ALPHA-Arrestins in Glucose Transporter Trafficking.” Hannah studies molecules that are inside our cells. These molecules are called protein-traffickers. They act like a person directing traffic – they tell proteins in the cell where to go. Under the guidance of Allyson O’Donnell from the University of Pittsburgh, she looked at the proteins responsible for getting glucose (food) to the cell. What made her project unique was her ability to examine protein traffickers that are used by mammals. Studying these pathways could lead to a much better understanding of diabetes as well as the growth of cancer cells.

The 300 scholars and their schools will be awarded $2,000 each. The Regeneron Science Talent Search scholars were selected from 1,760 applications received from 611 high schools across 45 states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and 10 countries. Scholars were chosen based on their exceptional research skills, commitment to academics, innovative thinking and promise as scientists, and hail from 198 American and international high schools in 37 states, Puerto Rico, Chinese Taipei, and Singapore. The Regeneron Science Talent Search provides students with a national stage to present original research and celebrates the hard work and discoveries of young scientists who are bringing a fresh perspective to significant global challenges. This year, research projects cover topics from bioinformatics to public health and energy efficiency.

Dr. Janet Waldeck, Allerdice physics teacher, mentored Hannah as she designed a number of independent research projects leading up to the Regeneron opportunity, and is confident that Hannah is on her way to becoming an amazing research scientist. “Hannah is one of the best students I have ever taught,” Waldeck said. “During her time in high school, she has matured into a strong leader. Many students working on research projects rely on her for thoughtful feedback on their presentations and their papers. Hannah does not only provide them with solid constructive solutions; she manages to encourage each student in the process. Her manner provides dignity and interest in everyone’s contribution.”

To hone her scientific and academics skills, Hannah has taken advantage of every academic opportunity available to her through the Pittsburgh Public Schools. She challenges herself with a full load of AP-level classes: she will have completed 17 AP-classes before graduating in 2021. She is a leader and key member of the USA Biology-Olympiad Club, Science Bowl Team, Debate Team, Math League, and Euro Challenge. In addition, she plays a significant role in organizations such as the senior-focused Pittsburgh nonprofit Giving it Forward Together, where she is a board member, and Students Against Gun Violence. Hannah is also a member of the school’s varsity tennis team.