Rickards student among top 300 in national science talent search

By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 16, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A Rickards High School student was recently named one of the top 300 scholars in a prestigious national math and science competition.

Tanvi Haldiya is a senior in the IB Program at Rickards.

"I mean it truly is a dream come true. I never imagined that I would be one of those young scientists representing our community," Haldiya said. "It's an honor."

Haldiya was recognized by the Regeneron Science Talent Search for her research into epilepsy and how best to treat patients who do not respond to existing medication.

"One in three patients who are actually affected by epilepsy are refractory which means they don't respond to medication. That's about 10 million people worldwide," Haldiya said.

Haldiya said instead of focusing on neurons, she looked at glial cells, which she described as "support cells of the nervous system."

"What I found was that temporal lobe epilepsy is in part mediated by glial cells, so essentially future research should look at providing glial targeted medication for epilepsy patients," she said.

Regeneron and the Society for Science & the Public announced the 300 scholars last week. Both Haldiya and her school will receive $2,000.

"I hope my $2000 dollars goes toward funding my college education and for the school I really hope it can inspire more science programs for our students and inspire them to learn unconventionally through research," Haldiya said.

"Ideally it will inspire other young students to see that just because we're here in Tallahassee and it's a smaller town that they can accomplish great things and step up and take their place on the national or even international stage," Rickards IB Coordinator Dr. Joe Williams said.

Haldiya conducts her research at the Kumar Lab at the FSU College of Medicine.

Haldiya will find out next week if she is among the top 40 scholars who will travel to Washington D.C. to compete in March.

"These young students will be the key to unlocking solutions to many of our world's most pressing challenges," said Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of the Society for Science and the Public.