Two high school students won third and fifth places in the 2021 Flint Regional Science & Engineering Fair with the mentorship of an MSU professor and a graduate student.

Ayan Nair and Arohi Nair, tenth graders at Okemos High School, were awarded top honors for their projects that focused on alleviating hospital congestion and addressing a shortage of resources due to COVID-19. Dr. Adam Alessio, an investigator at the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering and professor in the departments of Computational Mathematics, Science, and Engineering (CMSE) and Biomedical Engineering (BME) provided the students with mentorship, alongside Wenjie Qi, a fourth year PhD Candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

“Arohi and Ayan demonstrated incredible curiosity, intellect, and drive on their research projects. They approached us with interest in using AI with a healthcare problem,” Dr. Alessio explained. “Initially, they explored, all on their own, a wide variety of potential problems and both decided to apply AI to COVID detection. Ayan developed and tested a method that could potentially use a smartphone to detect COVID on radiographs, and Arohi using hand-crafted radiomic features for the same task.”

As a result of their hard work, the scientist siblings will go on to participate in the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), taking place virtually in May 2021. Ayan will attend as a competitor, while Arohi will attend as an alternate competitor. The two also received cash prizes, with Ayan receiving an additional four-year scholarship to the University of Michigan-Flint. Ayan was also awarded the Genesee County Medical Society Award, and Arohi was awarded the Matthew Bauerle Mathematics Award.

“I am humbled and inspired to see the enthusiasm and potential in these new scientists,” says Dr. Alessio, speaking on the siblings’ interest in STEAM. Part of IQ’s mission is to train the next generation of scientists, and opportunities to engage with the community through mentorship is a powerful way to forward that mission.

Join us in congratulating Arohi and Ayan, and wishing them luck at ISEF!

Communications contact: Saneeya Mir