Student Spotlight: Neelesh Pandey ‘25

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Neelesh Pandey ‘25Neelesh Pandey 25 has spent the better part of a year working on a project titled “The Effect of Somatic Mutations in Glioblastoma Multiforme on Patient Survival,” using computational modeling to identify how the presence of mutations in different genes can impact patient survival in glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive stage four brain cancer. 

On February 3, he competed in the South Florida Regional Science and Engineering Fair, where he won the David Negrelli Award and was one of seven finalists to advance to the international competition. In April, Neelesh won fourth place in the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair (SSEF). He also won a regional award in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium – one of the nation’s longest running STEM competitions that emulates a professional science and engineering symposium. 

What’s next for Neelesh? He will take his project to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in May.

In addition to his involvement in the Biomedical Sciences Signature Academic Program , Neelesh has been the President of the Class of 2025 since the beginning of high school, as well as the President of the Math Club and a co-founder of the Asian Student Union. He is a member of several honor societies, including National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and Rho Kappa. Read on to learn more about his love for science, how Gulliver has prepared him for a high level of competition, and more.

Neelesh Pandey ‘25

Have you competed in science fairs before? How does it feel to be competing at such a high level?

This was actually my first science fair. I had always wanted to get involved in science fairs since elementary school, but never knew how to compete. After learning about the South Florida Regional Science and Engineering Fair, I decided that it would be exciting to compete given my interest in science. It feels as if my hard work paid off by qualifying for ISEF as my project took more than six months to design and complete. 

How did you discover that you loved science?

In Middle School, my “favorite subject” was math, and science was “just another subject” that I liked in school. However, It was during ninth grade that I started to appreciate science more and more. When I came to high school and went through Mr. Nieveen’s freshman biology class, I began to see how science is crucial to understanding the world around me in so many different contexts, from why salt dissolves in water to how diseases affect the lives of millions across the world.

How would you say Gulliver has prepared you to compete in these competitions? 

I am grateful to the teachers who have helped me in this journey. I am especially thankful to Mrs. Yoly McCarthy and Mrs. Laura Keepax who made competing in science fairs possible through their guidance and experience. It was very interesting to see how some of the concepts discussed in Mr. Nieveen’s biology class and Ms. Teruel’s statistics class applied to my project.

Neelesh Pandey ‘25

Why do you love science? Is there a particular type of science, experiment, etc., that you like most? 

Science fascinates me because it pursues understanding why things are the way they are and using this understanding to solve major problems in the world. My favorite type of science has to be neuroscience. This interest sparked from how neuroscience connects the molecular aspects of chemistry and the biological features of neuronal cells to regulate how the body interacts in the world around it. I remember thinking how interesting it was that changing the electrical charge of a neuronal cell could lead to a release of chemicals when I learned about action potentials in Mrs. Keepax’s biomedical class. It was this interest in neuroscience that led me to work on my project on glioblastoma multiforme.

How has being a student at Gulliver allowed you to grow, discover new passions, and experience new ideas and opportunities?

By giving me so many different experiences, Gulliver has allowed me to be willing to try new things and see where it goes, even if they might not work out as I expect. It was this mentality to “try it out” which led me to compete in the science fair for the first time and to continue with my project in times where I felt like I had reached a dead end. I am so grateful to Gulliver for giving me networking opportunities that have allowed me to connect with remarkable individuals in science who have given me different perspectives on approaching the inquiry of scientific concepts. 


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