The Governor’s STEM Scholars has named three South Brunswick High School students to its 2023 Scholars class.
South Brunswick Senior Krishnan Tholkappian, Senior Xinyi Zhang, and rising Senior Samuel Yeboah-Manson are part of a 2023 Scholars class that consists of 128 scholars from 20 counties across the state.
Students of color make up 83% of this year’s scholars and 64% of the class identifies as female, according to the Governor’s STEM Scholars (GSS).
“The Governor’s STEM Scholars provides high-achieving New Jersey STEM students in grades 10 through doctoral level with an introduction to the state’s vast STEM economy to retain that talent in the state,” GSS said.
Tholkappian is part of leadership in several nationally recognized STEM non-profit organizations to nurture his passions for computer science and community service. He spends the most time with Code 4 Tomorrow, a high school student-run non-profit that has provided free coding education to more than 4,000 students worldwide over the past two years.
Tholkappian is president of the organization, where he assists and leads projects concerning advertising, classes, finance, curriculum, productivity within the organization, and working with start-up companies, according to GSS.
He recently completed an internship for the New Jersey Homeland Security Department’s Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell. In high school, Tholkappian is the workshops coordinator and education lead of Launch XSTEM, a competitive entrepreneurship club.
Zhang leads the Science Olympiad team at South Brunswick High, where she has placed first in the state and top three in national invitationals in her events.
She serves as the senior director at the National STEM Honor Society, which brings STEM resources and project-based learning opportunities to over 40 chapters nationwide.
“Christine is currently a research intern studying cognitive decline and health literacy. This past summer, she conducted psychology/neuroscience research on olfactory learning and memory in the New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences program,” according to GSS.
She has also pursued biomedical research projects through programs such as the Rockefeller University Summer Science Research Program and is a young member of the New York Academy of Science Junior Academy, where she collaborates with students and mentors to devise solutions to global health challenges.
Yeboah-Manson is described as very service-driven and passionate about public health. He serves as the vice president of South Brunswick High School’s Students For Public Health Club, where he has raised more than $1,000 for health-based charities.
“Sam enjoys learning about neuroscience and bio-psychology and has recently begun an independent study research project where he aims to investigate the neural mechanisms that underlie certain racial prejudices and how such prejudices are translated into concrete actions,” according to GSS.
Yeboah-Manson has participated in academic camps such as the BioCONECT Oncology Leadership Development program at Rutgers University, where he spent a week researching breast cancer, and reviewed biopsies from cancer survivors.
He also attended the Johns Hopkins Global Health Leaders Conference where he learned about different global health issues in the summer from distinguished scientists. At the end of the same conference, Yeboah-Manson presented about race-based medicine and its ill effects on minorities to his fellow attendees, according to GSS.
GSS introduces scholars to New Jersey’s STEM economy with a public-private partnership among the Research & Development Council of New Jersey, the New Jersey Office of the Governor, the New Jersey Department of Education, the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, and the state’s leading research companies.
The scholars are able to do this through master classes, research work, quarterly symposiums and field trips.
The program conducts four weekend conferences in the academic year, which allows for the scholars to engage with state STEM professionals.
In order to graduate from the program scholars must attend all of the four conferences and take part in a research project as a team member or a team leader.
When the students graduate in May 2023, they will join an alumni cohort of over 700 Scholars.