I made a lot of friends here. We’re sort of like a big family, who can just talk together, laugh together.
After deliberating for some time, Angus ’23 recently decided on his plans for next fall: He’ll be heading to Cornell University’s College of Engineering, where he no doubt will find himself in the lab, pursuing his passion for research.
“When I try to reach a goal, I make sure I study every part of every single topic,” he says. “Basically, I have an idea and I go study how to do the research and figure out what I need to learn to support [that goal].”
It’s an approach that’s yielded exciting results for Angus — including, earlier this academic year, the top prize in the 2022 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest pre-college science competition. Angus received the award for designing an artificial lead that can generate oxygen and electricity, serving as both an air purifier and a power source. The project has also won awards from the American Chemical Society, the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, and the S.-T. Yau High School Science Awards.
“I have a really strong interest in nature,” Angus says. Standard batteries, he notes, have negative effects on the environment through every step of their life cycle, from production to disposal. “So I decided to create a completely eco-friendly sort of battery that can give you electricity but also can generate oxygen.” His interest in nature was inspired in part by his father, who is a traditional Chinese doctor and pharmacist. “That sparked my interest in science and in how we can utilize nature” in beneficial ways, Angus says.
Angus was mentored in his work by a university professor in Taiwan, where he’s from, and by NMH science teacher Jolene Schuster. He’s now working with fellow NMH students Joshua ’24 and Wilson ’24 to enter the artificial leaf into the Diamond Challenge Competition, an international entrepreneurship contest for high school students. He’s also submitted his research to academic journals and has applied for patents for the leaf in Taiwan and Germany.
Meanwhile, Angus has undertaken another eco-friendly research project, this one focused on the manufacture of blue jeans. Standard manufacturing processes for jeans, Angus notes, are not environmentally sound, from the high water consumption needed to grow cotton to the use of chemical pigments to create their distinctive hue. He’s developing an alternative dye, one that is extracted from the indigo leaf. The dye adheres to denim using natural proteins extracted from soybeans, which are relatively cheap and accessible. He plans to enter this research in competitions and to apply for patents as well.
Angus’ work continues to win accolades: This year, he was one of 300 students, selected from an international pool of 2,000, named a 2023 Regeneron Science Talent Search scholar. The honor recognizes students not just for their academic achievements but also for community engagement and leadership. For Angus, that includes his volunteer work with the Families of Taipei Critical Child Association, which supports families with special-needs children.
Angus, who came to Northfield Mount Hermon as a sophomore, was drawn by the school’s large, rural campus, which allows him both to enjoy nature and to focus on his studies without too many distractions. The College-model Academic Program allowed him to dig deep into math and science and move further ahead in those fields than he would have at many other schools.
The model has also allowed Angus to fit athletics into his busy schedule: varsity swimming in the winter and varsity golf in the spring. Belonging to a team has been a special part of his NMH experience and is something he’ll think of fondly when he moves on to the next stop on his journey. “I made a lot of friends here, which I really appreciate,” Angus says. “We’re sort of like a big family. I see everyone like a member of my family, who can just talk together, laugh together.”
Angus won the top prize in the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair for designing an artificial lead that can generate oxygen and electricity.