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Maine student in nation's most prestigious math and science competition

Patrick Wahlig was named Maine's only scholar in the Regeneron Science Talent Search.

FALMOUTH, Maine — Falmouth High School senior Patrick Wahlig is working towards being a scientist. His research so far could even be taking him to Washington D.C. in March.

On Tuesday, Patrick was named Maine's only scholar in the nation's oldest and most prestigious science and math competition: the Regeneron Science Talent Search.

Patrick found his love for science at a young age and started his research in the 8th grade.

"I thought about it for a couple of years; it's open to only seniors. I didn't know which project I would submit; you can only submit one project. Until this summer, I spent the summer doing research down at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology]," he said.

Born and raised in Maine, he has spent his whole life close to the water, which helped him develop an idea for his project.

"I developed a computer program that modeled the impact of ocean acidification on sea scallops down in Massachusetts Bay, which is a small offshoot on the gulf of Maine," Wahlig said.

Lynn Harder has been teaching Patrick since freshman year at Falmouth High

"From the first day, he was asking about what else he could be doing, what life science club he could start since we didn't have one, what research opportunities he could do, what clubs the school already had," Harder said. "So, his love for science was immediate from the first day he walked in." 

Science isn't Patrick's entire life. He's also on the school's sailing team and is president of his class.

"He's been published twice. He's been presenting his work to college professors for the last few years. He's been doing the science fair since freshman year; I think he even won it," Harder added. "He has shown a love of research that I haven't seen in any other student that I've had. It was a great chance to honor all the work he has done."

Patrick's unique project secured him a spot in the top 300 students in the nation.

"[Sea scallops] are not the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to research," Patrick said. "They think of curing cancer [or] studying Alzheimer's, not looking at shellfish on the ocean floor."

Patrick will find out in two weeks if he made it as a top-40 candidate to head to D.C. as a finalist in March.

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