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FairfaxEducationStudents advance in Regeneron competition

Students advance in Regeneron competition

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Regeneron and the Society for Science on Jan. 25 named two local students as among 40 finalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2023, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high-school seniors.

Ethan Zhou of McLean High School was recognized for his project, titled “Online Learning of Smooth Functions.”

Zhou worked on the mathematical theory behind a type of machine learning called online learning and how it performs when predicting something highly unpredictable. His work applies both when the prediction is a single number and when multiple values are being predicted simultaneously.

Emily Ocasio, who attends New School of Northern Virginia in Fairfax, was recognized for her project, titled “Demographic Correlates of Humanizing Language in Media Coverage of Crime: Evidence from The Boston Globe, 1976-84.”


Using an artificial-intelligence (AI) model, Ocasio matched publicly available FBI data with archival Boston Globe articles to examine hidden biases about homicide victims in media coverage. By mapping a victim’s demographics against the quantity of humanizing details reported in the newspaper, she demonstrated biases based on the victim’s race, gender and age.

From March 9 to 15, finalists will participate in a week-long competition where they will compete for more than $1.8 million in awards.

Each finalist, selected from 1,949 entrants, will receive $25,000. The top 10 awards, which will be announced during a live-streamed awards ceremony on March 14, range from $40,000 to $250,000.

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