King School's Sammy Hillenmeyer '21 and Joe Winterlich '21 named scholars in prestigious, nationwide Regeneron Science Talent Search


Sammy Hillenmeyer                                                    Joe Winterlich 


Sammy Hillenmeyer and Joe Winterlich have been recognized among the top 300 scholars in the 80th Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS), the nation's oldest and most prestigious science and mathematics competition for high school seniors.  As scholars, they are in the running to make the top 40 finalists list (to be announced on January 21). 

The Society for Science explains, "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." 

As students in King's Advanced Science Program for Independent Research and Engineering (ASPIRE), Sammy and Joe are both conducting original, impressive research as interns in a R01-level research laboratory. 

Sammy is working at Yale University in the Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department under the direction of senior graduate student Jake Heinlein, Ph.D. candidate, and lab director Shu Hu, Ph.D., trying to convert methane (a gas fuel) to methanol (a liquid fuel) to reduce greenhouse emissions and mitigate climate change.  Sammy describes his passion for research, saying, "When I started research at Yale, I knew immediately that this was the place for me.  After years of hard work, I am honored to receive this achievement and I am encouraged to continue doing research in greener energy sources. 

Joe is working with research associate Alexandre Gouzy, Ph.D., under the direction of Sabine Ehrt, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College.  Joe is seeking to identify a cure for the devastating Tuberculosis disease by using human and murine (mouse) proteins that have naturally occurring antibacterial properties.  Joe believes, "It is a great honor to be named among the 300 Regeneron STS scholars, all of whom have fascinating and complex projects.  I view this achievement as inspiration and motivation to compete in future scientific events and share my research with the scientific community."

Dr. Victoria Schulman, Director of Science Research, guides the ASPIRE students. Reflecting on Sammy and Joe's achievements, she exclaims, 

"I could not be more proud of these students and their hard work, and I truly cannot describe how excited I am for them.  I've had the honor of working with Sammy and Joe for the past three years, and to see them reach the top after growing and challenging themselves so much is just so wonderful.  It's a true testament to the very purposeful programming we have here at King. 

Because the Regeneron Science Talent Search is so prestigious and the Scholars circle is so exclusive, I was only cautiously hopeful that maybe — just maybe — we might, someday have one of our King students be named a Top Scholar, so I was beyond thrilled that our ASPIRE students not only met, but exceeded, that goal with two Regeneron Scholars this year!  I first started working with Joe and Sammy when they were sophomores in my Honors Chemistry class, and I knew they had potential.  It has truly been a pleasure to watch them grow from curious young students into truly excellent budding scientists and young adults with ambitious goals and aspirations. They are most deserving of this recognition, and it was so amazing to share this moment with the entire ASPIRE group in class this afternoon shortly after Regeneron announced the Top 300. These high-achieving students have formed a little family, and we were all celebrating today."

Associate Head of School for Strategic Program and Head of Upper School Marnie Sadlowsky adds, 

"Regeneron scholars all share not only the qualities of ambition, talent, and passion, but also attend schools that provide the very best teachers, programs, and opportunities.  Through our ASPIRE program, and in connection with the outstanding math and science programs at King School, Sammy and Joe developed the skills, understanding, and commitment to see a complicated project through to successful completion.  ASPIRE enables students to connect with prominent research institutions and scholars — key opportunities that Sammy and Joe embraced.  Plus, they demonstrated what we want for all of our students: the ability to patiently work through complex problems to come up with creative solutions.  A King education asks all of its students to do this hard work. I could not be more proud of Sammy and Joe and see them as models for future King research scientists!  I am also so proud of Dr. Victoria Schulman and our math and science teachers for raising these young scholars to such a high level of excellence." 

As part of the ASPIRE program, in March 2020, Joe and Sammy also had the opportunity to compete at the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair (CSEF) and both students were recognized as top 10 finalists.  In that competition, Joe earned a medal in the Biotechnology category for his Microbiology-based project and Sammy also podiumed and earned 5th place in the Physical Sciences category, receiving an engraved plaque for his work.

The King Fund supports STEM opportunities.  The ASPIRE program is also supported, in partnership with the King Fund, by the Advanced Mathematics and Science Study Program (AMSSP) Endowed Fund. Established in 2018 by Margharet, Frank, Bea '15 and William '17 Nash, the AMSSP Fund supports select students with demonstrated ability and interest in achieving true excellence within science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics in global competition preparation, and/or laboratory research experiences.  Your philanthropic investment in King School through the King Fund, Endowment, and Major Gifts supports these and other distinctive offerings for students at King.



   Sammy Hillenmeyer                                                        Joe Winterlich