Collin Lung Takes Second Out of 50 at Long Island Science and Engineering Fair

Senior science research student Collin Lung recently earned a Second Place Grand Award at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair (LISEF) for his project “In Silico Studies of Neonicotinoids with CYPs and nAChRs: Opportunities for the Design of Selective Pesticides.” The competition, which took place at the Crest Hollow Country Club on Mar. 8, included 50 projects from science students across Long Island.

      Lung said he was nervous prior to the competition, but he arrived early and completed some last-minute presentation practice with research teacher Charles Vessalico, who said it was intimidating to see all of the other projects. However, they were reassured knowing that even making it to the second round of competition was an accomplishment in itself.

Lung’s project was assessed by four judges, who, he said, “were very nice and understanding.” Lung continued, “I loved talking to them about my project. They seemed very passionate about science, and I gained more confidence after each judge I presented to.”

The day ended with the awards ceremony. The awards were listed from last to first place, making for a very nerve-wracking ceremony, Lung said. After not being awarded an honorable mention nor a third place prize, Lung knew he would take home first or second. When his name was called for second place, Lung said he was very proud of his achievement. 

“Deep down inside,” Lung said, “I was kind of sad because I was so close to achieving first and moving on to the international science and engineering fair.”

Lung has received plenty of support for his achievement. “Mr. Vessalico was really proud of me and so were my classmates, friends, and family,” he said. He is happy with the experience, especially being that it was his first in-person professional competition. 

“Due to COVID, my research class was not able to have any in-person competitions, so it was definitely a new, eye-opening experience,” Lung explained. “I met a few new friends at this competition, and I hope to see them in the future again.” 

Research teacher Kathleen McAuley is also proud of Lung, saying his award was “so well deserved.” She also commended him for persevering through the difficulties that the pandemic has placed on research students. 

“The last two years have been challenging for all students, but research being such a unique class poses its own unique challenges,” McAuley said. “Where most research students plan to find a lab as a twelfth grader, our current seniors experienced just how impossible COVID-19 closures made it to conduct research outside of school. Collin didn’t let this stop him.”

Collin had to put many hours of research into his project. To find a mentor, he read an estimate of 1,000 college professor website bios to find scientists he could contact for reliable information. He then attended virtual lectures with college students in Brazil, taught himself chapters from a college-level organic chemistry textbook, and researched and identified software to analyze his data – all outside of his school day. He has spent hundreds of hours on his project, in addition to his daily school work and extracurricular activities. 

“What Collin was able to accomplish is so unbelievably impressive on its own, but even more spectacular considering just how many obstacles he continually overcame throughout the process,” McAuley said. “Our LHS research family couldn’t be prouder of his accomplishment.”