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Yunseo Choi, first-place winner in the 2021 Regeneron Science Talent Search. Photo: Regeneron Science Talent Search

America's most brilliant high-schoolers were recognized in the nation's biggest student science contest this week.

Why it matters: Many of us quite literally owe our lives to the skill and dedication of the researchers who fought COVID-19, and the young winners of this year's contest should give us faith in the future of science in the U.S.

What's happening: 40 high school seniors from across the country competed virtually earlier this week in the final round of the 2021 Regeneron Science Talent Search.

  • Over $1.8 million in prize money was at stake, with first place — and $250,000 — ultimately going to 18-year-old Yunseo Choi of Phillips Exeter Academy.

How it works: Choi studied matching algorithms that work for a finite number of couples... to see how it would work for an infinite number... which means...

Background: The Science Talent Search has run every year since 1942, and its alumni — who include prominent scientists like geneticist Eric Lander and physicist Lisa Randall — have gone onto win 13 Nobel Prizes and 22 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, among other major science prizes.

What's next: Choi, who will be headed to Harvard in the fall, wants to go into academia.

  • "I like the idea of being able to work with younger students," she says. "I think it's such a big luxury to have that privilege of thinking about problems that interest me over the long term."

The bottom line: "We need to have the best scientific minds and engineers," says Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science. "And the only way to do that is to invest in the next generation."

Go deeper

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

This arthritis drug cost $198 in 2008. Now it's more than $10,000

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2008, a box of 30 anti-inflammatory rectal suppositories that treats arthritis, called Indocin, had a price tag of $198. As of Oct. 1, the price of that same box was 52 times higher, totaling $10,350.

Why it matters: As federal lawmakers continue to waver on drug price reforms, Indocin is another example of how nothing prevents drug companies from hiking prices at will and selling them within a broken supply chain.