At around 4 p.m. on Jan 9, Anson Wang, a senior at East Meadow High School, received the email he had been waiting for. It was from the Society for Science & the Public, notifying Wang that he had been named a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search, a nationwide competition that aims to discover the country’s best and brightest young scientists, who present original research to nationally recognized scientists.
But it wasn’t until several hours later that Wang finally heard the good news. Thinking that the semifinalists would not be revealed until the following week, the 17-year-old was in no rush to check his email. When he arrived home at 11 p.m. from his after-school job as a piano teacher, however, he opened his inbox and noticed an email from a news outlet, requesting an interview. Only then did he think to check the Intel website, where he saw his name among the semifinalists.
“I’m honored,” Wang said at East Meadow High two days later. “I was on a high yesterday from all the people coming up to me and telling me, ‘Congratulations.’”
Wang is one of 300 semifinalists from across the nation, chosen from 1,712 entrants in the competition. His research paper is titled “Regulation of Memory Protein PKMzeta in Alzheimer’s Disease.” He is the second semifinalist in EMHS history; Andrew Barsky achieved the honor in 2008. “It’s just a testament to how far the school has come with their research program,” Wang said.
He conducted his research last summer at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. His father, Lin Wang, earned a doctorate in biochemistry at SUNY Downstate years ago and, having kept in touch with his professors, he helped his son get involved in the laboratory two summers ago.
Working with the world-renowned Dr. Todd Sacktor, a professor of neurology, and Drs. Paula van de Nes and Charles Shao, Wang studied the role that a protein called PKMzeta plays in human memory.
He explained that while researching different proteins and enzymes, Sacktor discovered PKMzeta’s important role in maintaining memories. He conducted experiments using lab mice, and then studied the effect of the protein on Alzheimer’s disease, an illness whose primary symptom is long-term memory loss.