Aileen Wang, a senior from Aliso Niguel High School, has been selected as a California Regional Finalist for the 2014 Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology. The Siemens Competition is the nation’s premiere research competition for high school students and provides scholarship opportunities as well.

On October 20, the Siemens Foundation announced the names of 97 regional finalists from across the United States. Of those 97, Wang was selected as the only Regional Finalist from the Orange County area. Her project is titled “A Novel Melanoma Detection Algorithm Using Optimal Point Region Growing Segmentation and Pseudo-Zernike Moments.”

Two other Ardent Academy students, Jennifer McCleary from Beckman High School and Parth Shah from Aliso Niguel High School were named regional semi-finalists earlier in the competition.

Wang was initially prompted to look into cancer research two years ago, when her aunt was diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer.

“I was shocked, and questioned why her doctor was unable to diagnose it earlier through routine mammography,” said Wang. “I wanted to help the countless number of people who are affected by this disease, which drove me to research early breast cancer diagnosis.”

Through months of research and development, Wang was able to create a new breast cancer detection algorithm to effectively diagnose if masses were malignant or benign, and competed using her project at the Orange County and California State Science Fairs. She has since expanded her algorithm to diagnose Melanoma and presented her findings at the International Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Biomedical Engineering (ICBCBBE) earlier this year.

Wang took part in Ardent Academy's Summer 2013 research program and worked with Dr. James Li, Ardent Academy's director.

“Aileen has approached this endeavor with tenacity and resilience,” said Li. “Her passionate approach has remained consistent throughout her research, and she did not allow roadblocks to interfere with her goals.”

Wang will continue on to compete in the Siemens Competition regional finals against other accomplished California high school students for the opportunity to move on to the national competition, where students from around the country will compete for scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.