senior class valedictorian, Samuel Miller, is the only student on the East End to achieve Intel Science Talent Search semi-finalist standing this year.
Miller, who lives in Noyac, is one of 300 semi-finalists in the United States out of 1,744 applicants.
He submitted a research project that isolated a compound that could lead to the development of an antibiotic drug that can fight off multiple-drug resistant infections. This type of research is importnant because multiple-drug resistant infections are an increasing problem in today’s society, and Miller said, “This could lead to new drugs fighting off resistant bacteria.”
Part of the reason the compound is unique is because it is the first example of its class that came from a sooty mold, he said.
The project was an accumulation of about eight months worth of research, during and after his participation in Robert Schumacher’s science research class. Miller said, “I like the idea of helping out using medicine.”
The competition encourages high schools to submit their science research projects to receive scholarship awards, with the grand-prize winner receiving a $100,000 four-year scholarship. According to the Intel Talent Search website, it is “the nation’s most prestigious pre-college science competition.”
Pierson has had a semi-finalist every year for the past seven years from Schumacher’s science research class. Schumacher, who has a doctorate in Organic Chemistry, attributed the success to the students' talents. “We have really great kids and we basically show them the process,” which gets them interested and they go from there, he said.
He said he has also been lucky enough to have equipment donated from a pharmaceutical company, which gives his students a leg-up when researching. His brother, Richard Schumacher, also is a teacher at Pierson and he had the equipment donated from a pharmaceutical company where he was previously employed.
Schumacher said that it gives students the ability to compete against the bigger high schools that have the larger facilities and better access to research equipment.
As for Miller, he doesn't only have his hand in the science research world. As Pierson’s senior class valedictorian he is on his way to Cornell University and aims to study computer science. He is on the school’s basketball team and is involved in a robotics competition each year.
“Sam is one of the most well-rounded kids I’ve ever spoken to. He has it all," Schumacher said.