Steven Castellano
Student Scientist, High Technology High School

Steven Castellano Shares Acupressure Secrets With the Military

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Pilots in particular need to remain alert over long periods of time.

Steven Castellano

Big Think extends a warm thank you to Cogito and the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University for facilitating this interview.

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: Why is the military interested in acupressure?

Steven Castellano: This research also does have particular applications for the armed forces. I think it was Dr. Louis Czoka, he is the founder of a Center for Enhanced Training at West Point and he said that at no time other than today has there been a greater demand for the army to invest in the means to regulate alertness. And what he means by this is that the army's requiring all types of advanced technology, they have, like let's say the soldier, he'd be looking at the GPS device that he'd be looking up a broad field, so like a broad view in the real world so you're going from a narrow focus to a wider focus, it requires a lot of visual attention skills. Definitely air traffic controllers. When I visited the Federal Aviation Administration I was shocked, like there's all interfaces going on. The same with pilots, you're going from looking at interfaces to looking out, so there's a lot of things that require visual attention skills and training of that and I think that's what they're interested in.

So, when I presented it, I presented to 4th Mammoth at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, and when I presented to them a lot of people asked me to forward their paper. So I think definitely more research would have to be done: looking into how acupressure trains alertness over time; if we could apply acupressure for longer or shorter periods of time; how that would affect it if there were certain points that were more effective. So they are definitely looking into that and I mean it would be a long process for them to implement acupressure training into the armed forces, but it's definitely something that there is a lot of interest in and that we might want one day see.

Recorded on: May 8, 2009