2019 davidson winners

Here are their tips for getting started, overcoming setbacks, and staying healthy

Three CTYers have been named 2018 Davidson Fellows, each winning a cool $25,000 for completing a significant piece of research before they turned 18. We caught up with Deena Shefter, Eeshan Tripathii, and David Wu to learn some hot tips from these rising stars.



Meet the Fellows:

Deena Shefter, 18, from Hackensack, N.J., is a freshman at Columbia University. Her award-winning research focused on investigating the connections between osteoporosis and multiple sclerosis. She took four summer courses with CTY.

Eeshan Tripathii, 16, is a senior at The Dalton School in New York City. His award-winning research focused on developing a neural network that improves indoor air quality at an affordable cost. He took three summer and several online courses with CTY.

David Wu, 18, from Potomac, Md., is a freshman at MIT. His award-winning research improved current methods for gathering data on prime number patterns. He took five summer and one online course with CTY.

Advice for students who are thinking about starting a research project?

Eeshan: Find a problem you are passionate about and don't stop working on it till you think you have fixed it. I am not saying you can fix every problem or even completely fix one, but until you feel you have done your absolute best, never give up. My research is far from over and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.

Deena: Choose a topic that interests you and then put as much time and effort into your study as you can. Research is hard work, but it should be fun, so choosing the right topic is important. Also, remember that your data will not always make sense, so you should not be discouraged if you run into an issue, but try to approach the issue from a different perspective to resolve it.

David: Email local professors, especially those with a reputation of being friendly towards high school students. Not everyone enjoys research in high school, so if you don’t like it, try not to let it rule out the possibility of pursuing research in the future. 

Research is hard! How did you overcome setbacks?

Eeshan: There were countless times when I wanted to give up, but I would wake up the next day and those feelings would have passed. When you stay with a problem long enough, you begin to realize the importance of your work. I wasn't always sure that I would be able to achieve my goal, but I never considered quitting.

Deena: Since all of my research had to be done during school hours, it was a challenge to organize my time so I could do all of the necessary procedures, go to classes, and still have time to eat lunch. This organization was crucial, though it took time to master but it was crucial to the completion of my research. My data also did not always make sense, so I had to consider different ways to analyze it. But I never wanted to give up because I believed that what I was studying could have positive implications on a great number of people.

How did you celebrate your Davidson Fellows Scholarship?

Eeshan: I was having dinner with my friends when I found out about the award; my friends expressed their earnest congratulations by handing me the bill.

David: It was pretty laid back: I told my family and had a mini-celebration with close friends.

Deena: After jumping from excitement for about 30 seconds, I called my family and research mentor to let them know I had been awarded the scholarship, and they were ecstatic. That night, my family and I went out to dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant. It was a great day.

David Wu, Deena Shefter, Eeshan Tripathii
David Wu, Deena Shefter, and Eeshan Tripathii

Any advice for fellow CTYers on balancing school, family, and extracurricular activities?

David: College is a lot—not just because of the academics, but also meeting new people and trying out for and applying to clubs. You have to learn how to be resilient and adapt to the environment. At the same time, figure out what you really care about getting out of college and don’t lose sight of that.

Deena: It has been exciting to live in one of the liveliest cities in the world. Although doing laundry and waking up on time may seem daunting, it comes naturally and is definitely not something to worry about. I entered college with a positive mindset and willingness to step outside my comfort zone professionally and personally, and I will keep moving forward with the same attitude.

Eeshan: Make sure you don't allow one activity to dominate your life. It is important to keep a healthy balance. That being said, do what you enjoy and give it 100 percent. If you are passionate and put in the effort, you will see results. Work hard in high school but also remember to enjoy yourself. You only get to be a high schooler once. I love spending time with my friends. And for me, two things work best for unwinding: taekwondo and watching standup comedy.