STEM Prodigy Zara Yu Earns Scholarship in Science Competition

STEM Scholar of KHS shines as a result of her project studying quantum control and technology.

A few weeks ago, it was announced that Kinnelon High School student Zara Yu had been selected as a Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar, earning her a cash prize and the school a grant to be used on STEM activities. Her project studied quantum control and technology, and its potential applications in computing and metrology. In addition to that, she’s also founded numerous organizations that help kids learn STEM and apply it using workshops and lessons. But who is Yu, and how did she achieve all of this? 


Zara who?

Yu is a senior at KHS, despite being only 15 years old. Excelling in all subjects, Yu has a passion for the STEM field, and has accomplished significant feats in that area. In middle school, she began taking college courses in science and math, pursuing knowledge in those fields and exploring her passion for science. 

Two years ago when schools closed down, Yu became involved in research over the summer, originally researching how machine learning could be applied to diagnose COVID-19 patients, inspired by the shutdown in March and the rising cases. Motivated by her desire to better society through scientific innovation, Yu continued her research and began focusing specifically on quantum control. 


What is quantum control? 

Quantum control is a discipline that addresses the following question; How can systems that obey quantum mechanical laws be manipulated to create desired behaviors? Put simply, this field is focused on researching how the classical world interacts with quantum devices. This rather new and foreign area of quantum physics has numerous applications in computing, sensing, and metrology (the study of measurement). 

Researching this topic and its applications in quantum computing, Yu submitted a research report to the contest after working on it for a few months, and became a Regeneron STS Scholar through a science contest. 


What’s that contest?

The Regeneron Science Talent Search is a nationwide science research competition that challenges students in their final year of high school to perform independent research into a STEM field. The contest is designed to give young researchers an opportunity to present original research and celebrate their hard work, often offering new perspectives on significant global challenges such as climate change or a pandemic. The contest also offers significant cash prizes for students whose research is especially noteworthy. 


What else has Yu done in the STEM field?

In addition to this recent achievement, Yu also won the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) Science Champion Award last year when she submitted her research on machine learning to the North Jersey Regional Science Fair. She is also the founder and president of Future Female Scientists, a new club at KHS. Another interesting accomplishment was her role in the founding of Logistem, which she co-founded with 2 other high school students. 


What is Logistem?

Logistem is an organization of high-school and middle-school students that are passionate about STEM and want to share their experiences with others. They have hosted numerous events across the country and outside of the USA as well, holding workshops and weekly classes to show students a variety of applications for STEM and spark their interest in it. Yu is the Linguistics Director and co-founder of Logistem, and she runs weekly classes as part of its operations. 

Yu founded Logistem because she wanted to spread her experience in the STEM fields to younger students, helping to introduce them to topics like game design, 3D animation, and robotics through workshops and events. She later founded AlphaBits, a company dedicated to creating learning plans and worksheets for students. She is currently the CEO. 


In college, Yu plans on continuing her research into quantum control, majoring in physics and applied mathematics. When asked if she has any advice for people who want to follow in her footsteps, this was her advice:

“If people have interest in entering STEM fields, I would first suggest that they find something they are passionate about and work towards learning more about it. After that, there are lots of opportunities for people to get involved in STEM from participating in competitions to doing research. They should find what sounds most interesting to them and try it out.”


If you want to pursue a subject in the STEM field, there are many opportunities at KHS for you to get involved with including a healthy variety of clubs and electives such as the Science Research Club and the USABO. If you want to learn more about these options, talk to your guidance counselor or consult the school website. 

In addition to school options, there are also numerous STEM programs running over the summer if you are interested in signing up for any of them. The link below contains more information on these programs. Summer STEM Programs

Who knows? Maybe your path towards a career in the STEM field begins here.