Sayville Science Semifinalist

  • Sayville High School Senior Caitlin Gormley has been Named a Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar

    Sayville High School Senior Caitlin Gormley was named a Semifinalist Scholar in The Regeneron Science Talent Search (Regeneron STS), formerly Intel, the nation's most prestigious pre-college science competition. Caitlin earned this distinction as a Semifinalist Scholar for her research entitled Geospatial analysis of hydrofracturing activities related to human health outcomes and seismic activity.

    During the summer following her freshman year, Caitlin had enrolled in an Introductory GIS (geographic information systems) course taught by her research teacher Maria Brown at the high school, but offered under the auspices of the Accelerated College Education Program through Stony Brook University.  (A GIS uses robust spatial-statistic tools to create maps that help researchers visualize, question, analyze, and interpret data. Ultimately it tells a story about relationships, patterns, and trends that render a clearer understanding of the data collected.)

    Using ARGIS, a GIS software produced by ESRI, Inc. (ArcMap Version 10.3) to conduct her research at the high school, Caitlin worked on multiple geospatial projects for the past two and a half years with the help of her Honors Earth Science teacher Janet Kaczmarek and Maria Brown. 

    The purpose of Caitlin’s study was to assess geospatially whether proximity to hydrofracturing activities may be associated with increased incidence rates of some cancers and other health outcomes in selected regions of the USA. Hydrofracturing (aka hydrofracking) removes trace amounts of natural gases from underground wells in sedimentary bedrock using water and chemicals that have become highly controversial for the period 2008-2012.  She assessed the potential for impacts on human health outcomes in geographic locations where hydrofracturing activities occur (PA, OH, WV).

    Caitlyn’s results suggest that all health outcomes showed increased incidences in areas where hydrofracturing is occurring. The mean annual wind-trend over the disease hot-spot regions suggest that wind may be a factor in moving particles that evaporate into the air. Seismic data were also analyzed to determine how the increase in hydrofracturing activities have impacted the occurrence and depth of the earthquake epicenter. Emerging trends in seismic activity suggest that increased hydrofracturing activity has led to increased incidence and depth of earthquake epicenters.

    Alumni of STS have made extraordinary contributions to science and hold more than 100 of the world's most coveted science and math honors, including the Nobel Prize and National Medal of Science. Annually, students entering the Regeneron STS compete for more than $3.1 million in awards. Only 300 students are announced as scholars each year. From this select pool, 40 finalists are then invited to Washington, D.C. in March to participate in final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists, and compete for the top award of $250,000. Each scholar receives a $2,000 award from Regeneron with an additional $2,000 going to his or her school, Finalists will be announced on January 24, 2017!

    Last year, Caitlin received First Place at the ESRI Map Gallery High School Competition held at the International GIS User Conference in San Diego, California and also was invited last June as the only high school student to present her research findings at URISA’s (Urban & Regional Information Systems Association) Health Symposium held in Washington DC, where her findings were well-received.


    Congratulations, Caitlin!