Elite High School Scientists Headed To BIO 2015 to Face Off in the BioGENEius Challenge

New This Year, Students will Compete in Three BioGENEius Challenge Tracks: The Johnson & Johnson Innovation Global Healthcare Track, Agriculture and Environment

WASHINGTON--()--Today, the Biotechnology Institute announced the launch of three BioGENEius challenge tracks—in Healthcare, Sustainability and Environment—and the 28 student winners who will advance to the final stages of the 2015 BioGENEius Challenge next week at the 2015 Biotechnology Industry Organization Annual Convention (BIO 2015) in Philadelphia.

The BioGENEius Challenge is the premier competition for high school students from across the globe that recognizes outstanding research and innovation in biotechnology. New this year, the students will be recognized for their efforts in three different Challenge tracks--global healthcare, sustainability and the environment. The addition of these three new BioGENEius Challenges is part of a new strategic initiative to expand the depth and impact of the program. Finalists from each track will join industry professionals at the BIO International Convention.

Johnson & Johnson Innovation is the sponsor for the global healthcare challenge as part of its longstanding mission to support STEM education.

“The high school students competing in the BioGENEius Challenge are among the world’s elite young thinkers. Their research projects represent some of the freshest thinking about how to use biotechnology to solve the world’s most challenging problems,” said Seema Kumar, VP Innovation, Global Health and Policy Communications at Johnson & Johnson. “We are proud to sponsor a program that helps these students achieve – and surpass -- their goals, and we are especially pleased to be the exclusive sponsor of the new BioGENEius Global Healthcare Track. These students are the future of applied scientific innovation that brings more years of life and quality of life to people around the world.”

On June 13, the finalists will participate in one round of judging for the U.S. National BioGENEius Challenge. The U.S. finalists will then compete against elite high school students from Canada and Germany in the International BioGENEius Challenge. During the competition, students will present highly advanced and innovative research projects that address a variety of real world challenges – including treatment and prevention of the onset of skin cancer, development of a new plastic creation process that is cheaper and more sustainable, and creation of natural pest control systems that can minimize costs associated with traditional methods (pesticides, insecticides) while maximizing environmental conscientiousness.

Student finalists include:

  • Jaya Bali, Charter School of Wilmington, Wilmington, Delaware
  • Ayan Bandyopadhyay, Bellarmine College Preparatory, San Jose, California
  • Boyang Dun, Canterbury High School, Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Anvita Gupta, BASIS Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Rachel Han, Academy for Medical Science Technology, Hackensack, New Jersey
  • Francisco Hernandez, The Charter School of Wilmington, Wilmington, Delaware
  • Anirudh Jain, Catlin Gabel School, Portland, Oregon
  • Nicole Kim, Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, New Jersey
  • Agni Kumar, Milton High School, Milton, Georgia
  • Olivia Lenzo, Oak Park River Forest High School, Oak Park, Illinois
  • Jonah Ng, Las Cruces High School, Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Molly Niemczyk, Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, Conyers, Georgia
  • Mikayla Ockels, Sussex Central High School, Georgetown, Delaware
  • Rohan Palanki, WP Davidson High School, Mobile, Alabama
  • Edward Park, Las Cruces High School, Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Senita Portlock, The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Durham, North Carolina
  • Vaishnavi Shrivastava, Mission San Jose High School, Fremont, California
  • Jonathan Snedeker, Fairview High School, Boulder, Colorado
  • Evan Solomonides, Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science at WPI, Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Marissa Sumathipala, Broad Run High School, Ashburn, Virginia
  • Kimberly Te, Manhasset High School, Manhasset, New York
  • Kang Wook Chung, Gilman School, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Max Ylitalo, Stillwater Area High School, Stillwater, Minnesota
  • Disha Dasgupta, Olathe North High School, Olathe, Kansas
  • Evan Whitehouse, Poolesville High School, Poolesville, Maryland
  • Michael Tran Duong, Methacton High School, Eagleville, Pennsylvania
  • Richard Zhang, Upper Dublin High School, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
  • Anthony Kang, San Diego Canyon Crest High School, San Diego, California

“The extraordinary research we see during the BioGENEius Challenge underscores the importance of investing and encouraging our younger generations to pursue their ideas,” said Dr. Lawrence Mahan, President of the Biotechnology Institute. “By introducing three distinct tracks, we will ensure the continued growth of education and career development opportunities in biotechnology, as well as the sustained impact of the industry as a whole.

The top three winners in the three International BioGENEius Challenge tracks will be announced during a luncheon at the 2015 BIO International Convention featuring Tom Brokaw. Each winner will receive a $7,500 cash prize.

“Through the BioGENEius Challenge, we urge our young scientists to keep exploring their ideas because we know this younger generation will continue to transform the scientific landscape,” said Sanofi Pasteur Senior VP for R&D John Shiver, PhD. “Today’s finalists highlight the importance of STEM education to our future.”

The BioGENEius Challenge is organized by the Biotechnology Institute, a U.S. based organization dedicated to biotechnology education. Generous support from sponsors include the Global Healthcare Challenge sponsor Johnson & Johnson Innovation and the International BioGENEius sponsor Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi.

About the Biotechnology Institute

The Biotechnology Institute is an independent, national nonprofit organization dedicated to education about the present and future impact of biotechnology. Its mission is to engage, excite and educate the public, particularly students and teachers, about biotechnology and its immense potential for solving human health, food and environmental problems. For more information, visit www.biotechinstitute.org.


Biotechnology Institute
Alexia Sikora, 202-295-8788

Release Summary

Biotechnology Institute announced the launch of three BioGENEius challenge tracks and the 28 student winners who will advance to the final stages of the 2015 BioGENEius Challenge at BIO 2015.


Biotechnology Institute
Alexia Sikora, 202-295-8788