Science Research Program Has Strong Showing at WESEF

Alexander Wolff

The PMHS Science Research Program had a record-setting showing at this year’s Westchester Science and Engineering Fair (WESEF), with several students earning top honors in their respective categories and four advancing to this year’s Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the most prestigious high school competition in the world. 

Held virtually on March 23, 2021, WESEF offers a chance for high school students across the county to showcase their research in a variety of fields. The top 20 projects advance to ISEF, where the students compete against the best research students from all over the world. This year, PMHS had incredible success and was the winningest school at the competition with four students, Brett Bober, Jack Dougherty, Daniel Dusevic and Lucia Lavallee advancing to ISEF for their projects in the environmental science field. Dougherty and Dusevic earned “Best Team in Fair” honors for their project “A Profile of Heavy Metal Contamination in Lower Hudson Valley Tributaries.” Bober also earned first place in Environmental Science for her project, “Determining Effective Locations of Seagrass to Prevent Coastal Erosion,” while Lavallee placed second for her project “Street Trees: An Analysis of Undergrounding Powerlines in the Northeastern Suburbs.”

“It was an amazing accomplishment just to be able to have so many students successfully complete their research and qualify to present at WESEF 2021,” said Steven Beltecas, who leads the science research program with Joe DiBello. “The win of one student embodies the hard work and dedication of all the students in our program. They have all helped each other through the years to become the strong individuals they are today. We are so proud of every student in our Science Research family for the amazing Herculean effort they put forth and accomplished. A huge thank you to AMPLIFY, our parent support group for science research, who helped students secure internships with mentors from multiple institutions and hometown connections.”

Mr. Beltecas also praised Dr. Tom Callahan, Director of Math and Science, who works with the science research program and serves as a mentor for several students, including Dougherty and Dusevic this year. 

“Dr. Callahan’s rigor, high expectations and never quit attitude helped carry two of our students to the top, as the best team in the fair and a spot as finalists at Regeneron ISEF,” he said. 

In addition to the students who will compete at ISEF, juniors Ann Liu (Computational Biology/Bioinformatics) and Caroline Garufi (Neuroscience) were selected as finalists for the GENIUS Olympiad, an international competition for the top performing juniors. 

The full results are as follows:

WESEF 2021 Finalists

Brett Bober

Environmental Science

Jack Dougherty Daniel Dusevic (best team in fair)

Environmental Science

Lucia Lavallee 

Environmental Science

GRAND PRIZE: International GENIUS Olympiad 

Ann Liu 

Computational Biology/Bioinformatics

Caroline Garufi 


1st Place Category Awards 

Brett Bober

Environmental Science

2nd Place Category Awards 

Ann Liu 

Computational Biology/Bioinformatics

Olivia Pollock

Environmental Science

Caroline Garufi 


James Findikyan  

Physics & Astronomy 

Nya Haseley

Medicine & Health

Jack Dougherty Daniel Dusevic 

Environmental Science

Lucia Lavallee 

Environmental Science

Matthew McCormick


3rd Place Category Awards 

Andrew Kelly 


4th Place Category Awards

Jack Tirsch 

Behavioral & Social Sciences

Stella Schlumbom

Cellular & Molecular Biology

Graham Yuen

Cellular & Molecular Biology 

Isaac Blackburn

Computational Biology/Bioinformatics

Madeline Buehrer

Environmental Science

Emily Kalyvas





Andrew Kelly, Katherine Valente

ASM Materials Education Foundation Award

  • awarded to recognize outstanding projects in materials engineering 


Stella Schlumbom 

Society for In Vitro Biology Award 

  • 11th grade student in recognition of their outstanding research in the areas of tissue or cell culture of plants or animals


Dyllan Hofflich 

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) 

  • projects that have the potential to make an impact on addressing international development challenges


Olivia Pollock, Jack Dougherty, Daniel Dusevic, Brett Bober and Evan Sefchick 

Stockholm Junior Water Prize 

NYS Semi - Finalists qualifying to compete for a chance to be a Finalist in Stockholm for their outstanding water science projects.


Charlotte Nanda

Critica Behavioral Science Achievement Award 

This award is donated by Critica, a community committed to making rational decisions about health and security, and is given to outstanding projects in the Behavioral Science category.


Elise McCarthy, Samantha Min, Margot Phillips, Georgia Russello

Excellence in Medical Research Award 

Donated by Westchester Academy of Medicine will be awarded to projects that improve our quality of life and make people healthier


Nya Haseley 

Future of Medicine Award 

sponsored by Westchester Academy of Medicine, is given to projects for their outstanding medical research. 


Paige Felgner and Luke Mackool 

Momentive Inventing Possibilities Award 

This award was donated by Momentive and is given to outstanding projects in the categories of chemistry, biochemistry and engineering. 


Katherine Grant Roll 

Teatown Young Environmentalist Award 

This award sponsored by Teatown Lake Reservation is given to projects that aim to protect natural habitats and/or ecosystems. 


Ben Levine

Carl Zeiss Curiosity in Research Award 

Awarded to students whose projects demonstrate excellence in scientific curiosity. 


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