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Step-by-Step Guide to the Regeneron ISEF

Step-by-Step Guide to the Regeneron ISEF

Are you a student who is passionate about science? Then, our step-by-step guide to the Regeneron ISEF - Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair might be right up your alley! This article will cover the competition's structure, and give a step-by-step guide for students who want to join the competition. We will also showcase the exceptional winners of 2023, their groundbreaking projects, and the impact of their research on the scientific landscape.
What is Regeneron ISEF?

Regeneron ISEF stands for the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair. Organized by the Society for Science & in partnership with the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (before 2019 was Intel Foundation), it is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious science fairs for high school students from every state in the United States and more than 70 countries around the world.

Regeneron ISEF normally refers to the final international fair that happens in May; but, in order to be qualified for the international competition, students have to participate in a series of competitions before. Students will participate in the local, regional, state, and national levels of the Science and Engineering Fair and/or the Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge to win the right to attend Regeneron ISEF. Find the closest fair near you at https://findafair.societyforscience.org/.

Who's eligible to participate in the Regeneron ISEF? 
  • Students in grades 9-12 or equivalent who have not reached age 20 on or before May 1 preceding ISEF.
  • If doing team projects, student groups are limited to three members. 
  • The language of projects and research must be in English.
For more information on eligibility and rules, please refer to https://www.societyforscience.org/isef/international-rules/
What is the ISEF category of submission?
Please note that your project can fit into more than one ISEF category, so your category selection should be solely based on what best fits your project. In addition, you don’t need to compete in the same category for your national, regional, state, or local competition. The full list of ISEF Categories are (ISEF also has subcategories):
  • Animal Sciences (ANIM)
  • Behavioral and Social Sciences (BEHA)
  • Biochemistry (BCHM)
  • Biomedical and Health Sciences (BMED)
  • Biomedical Engineering (ENBM)
  • Cellular and Molecular Biology (CELL)
  • Chemistry (CHEM)
  • Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (CBIO)
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences (EAEV)
  • Embedded Systems (EBED)
  • Energy: Sustainable Materials and Design (EGSD)
  • Engineering Technology: Statics and Dynamics (ETSD)
  • Environmental Engineering (ENEV)
  • Materials Science (MATS)
  • Mathematics (MATH)
  • Microbiology (MCRO)
  • Physics and Astronomy (PHYS)
  • Plant Sciences (PLNT)
  • Robotics and Intelligent Machines (ROBO)
  • Systems Software (SOFT)
  • Technology Enhances the Arts (TECA) (NEW IN 2024)
  • Translational Medical Science (TMED)
How does the Regeneron ISEF work?

We will walk you through an example to help you understand how the Regeneron ISEF works. This sample follows the story of Steven, a student studying at Lawrence Academy in Massachusetts, who is interested in participating in the ISEF.

In Massachusetts, there are 6 Regional Science Fair organizations, each regional science fair may send 40-50 of their top-scoring student projects to the statewide Science and Engineering Fair. Steven is studying at Lawrence Academy in Groton, MA, which makes him belong to Region 4 of Massachusetts. Access Region 4 competition at: https://mareg4.zfairs.com/App?f=58b00893-0bb3-4587-9fd4-643936333a59

  • HSEF, March 1, 2024 at Tufts University: Steven will participate in the High School Science and Engineering Fair, Region 4 of Massachusetts, which is a part of the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair. To participate in this HSEF, students should contact teachers for more information about creating an account and creating a project on the site.
  • Massachusetts Science & Engineering Fair (MSEF – State Fair), April 5, 2024: Let’s say Steven won the HSEF, and his project was nominated for the state fair. He will have to participate in the MSEF on this date. Last year, at the Region IV competition, the top 2 projects were nominated for ISEF, and the top 40 projects advanced to MSEF, where the awards totaled over $500,000.
  • ISEF, May 11-17, 2024: If Steven is nominated, he will also attend the ISEF!
Step-by-Step Guide to the Regeneron ISEF
Detail timeline

June – December:

  • Spend this time working on projects, but only allowed to enter one project
  • Read and understand the competition’s rules and guidelines
  • Sign any related paperwork for the competition

Note: Students may present work that includes no more than 12 months of continuous research, and they may not include research performed more than 18 months before the Regeneron ISEF in which they will be competing.

Jan – April:

  • Competing at the qualifying fairs (find one HERE)
  • You must be a finalist in an affiliated fair to move forward to ISEF
  • You generally participate in 3 rounds of competition (local, regional, and state) before ISEF

Note: Students can only compete in one ISEF-affiliated fair except when proceeding to a state/national fair affiliated with ISEF from an affiliated regional fair

Your Fair Date + 12 Calendar Days: Deadline to submit Finalist Questionnaire and Official Party Registration.

Date of Booth Assignment + 12 Calendar Days: Deadline for finalists to submit their virtual booth

March 6-13, 2024: Regeneron Science Talent Search Institute

April 12, 2024: Last date to hold a Regeneron ISEF affiliated fair. Regional fairs that feed into state fairs should coordinate the date of their fairs with the state.

April 17, 2024: Abstract Rewrite Deadline in Finalist Questionnaire (this deadline applies to abstract rewrites ONLY. Finalist Questionnaires are due 12 days after your finalists are announced).

May 11-17, 2024: Regeneron ISEF 2024 – Los Angeles, CA

Is ISEF competitive?

ISEF is extremely competitive because of its low acceptance rate. According to the Society for Science, the host of ISEF, each year there are over 175,000 students competing in 400 affiliated high school science fairs in more than 49 states and 64 countries (2023). There were nearly 1,600 finalists competing for $9 million in awards, prizes and scholarships. The finalist numbers make it less than a 1% acceptance rate to become a finalist.

ISEF Winners 2023

For ISEF 2023, Kaitlyn Wang, a 17-year-old from San José, CA, was the recipient of the $75,000 top award in the 2023 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (Regeneron ISEF). Wang’s project focused on exploring planets closely orbiting their suns, and she developed a groundbreaking algorithm for efficient identification of these exoplanets. Her project can be accessed here.

Saathvik Kannan, 17, from Columbia, Missouri, received a $50,000 Regeneron Young Scientist Award for using bio-computational methods to understand heightened infectivity in the disease mpox. His project can be accessed here.

Teepakorn Keawumdee, Pannathorn Siri, and Poon Trakultangmun from Bangkok, Thailand, were also honored with a $50,000 Regeneron Young Scientist Award for developing an innovative incubation chamber that significantly increased the survival rate of the green lacewing insect, a natural predator of the mealybug pest. Their project can be accessed here.

Aralia College Accelerator Program

At Aralia College Accelerator Program, we offer a unique opportunity for students to propel themselves toward success with our Science Research classes. Students will dive into the fascinating world of science research, and engage in personal projects that enhance their understanding of scientific principles.  Join us on a transformative journey where the Aralia College Accelerator Program becomes the launch-pad for your scientific aspirations and the potential to join Regeneron ISEF!

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