Steven Castellano is a senior at High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey, and is one of Big Think's "10 under 25" young experts.
At High Tech, he was the vice-president of the Key Club, vice-president of the National Honor Society, and a member of the senior class council. He also served as the secretary for the New Jersey state Technology Student Association that works to promote technological literacy in schools throughout the country. He has developed a deep interest in behavioral neuroscience research throughout high school and has worked on projects investigating the effects of acupressure on alertness and visual attention skills.
His research has won first prize in the MIT THINK competition, the Delaware Valley Science Fair, the Jersey Shore Science Fair, and the New Jersey Academy of Science. In addition, Steven has been named an Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist and has presented his research to the American Junior Academy of Science division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Human Factors and Ergonomics division of the Federal Aviation Administration, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association. Most recently, his research has been published in Imagine magazine.
In 2009, Steven and his teammates won $20,000 in the 2009 Moody's Mega Math Challenge, an applied mathematics competition sponsored by the Moody's Foundation and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. During the challenge, his team had 14 hours to analyze and submit a paper on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The team was also featured on Bloomberg Radio's Taking Stock with Pimm Fox and Karen Moscow. His paper and presentation can be viewed at 2009 Winning Papers.
After graduating from High Tech, Steven plans to attend Columbia College of Columbia University to study neuroscience and physics.
Question: What's your advice for aspiring scientists?
Steven Castellano: I feel that any student, not necessarily like a talented and gifted one, I don't really feel like there's anything particularly special about me that would make me considered talented and gifted, so I mean, I feel like any student, if they are interested in pursuing something they will be driven to follow through with it. I know in my case, like a lot of the teachers weren't necessarily recommending human subjects research, because it's kind of hassle to deal with. I mean they definitely encouraged it once you expressed interest in it, but you know, that was a slight hurdle. Also paying for software for my Enumeration Task and then you like apply for grants and you'll kind of just be driven to carry through I feel, if you're really deeply interested in what you're doing, so I feel like if you have an interest, you will be successful. I know that's probably a little bit idealistic I guess some advice I would say is start small, you don't have to start with solving the biggest problems, sometimes just re-verifying what is already known as a scientific truth can be just as interesting, to discover it for yourself. I know that was some of the most interesting things I did in my classes, it was just seeing what have been already been done and then trying to demonstrate yourself or re-verify using a slightly different analysis. So you could start small, do projects like that, and then see where your interests take you. Follow through with it and there's definitely contacts out there, I mean, if you want to learn about statistics, for example, you could get books from the library. And I feel like people start making connections after you start and express interest in it. I know some of my friends have emailed professors at universities or local universities and you could definitely get mentors to help you, then if you find that you are interested in research and you really do enjoy it, and you want to take it a step further.
Recorded on: May 8, 2009