By Sarah Yenesel ~ Southeast Missourian

Jackson High School senior Elijah Jones has been selected as one of the top 300 student scientists by Society for Science in the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2021, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.

“This is a brand new competition for our senior students and to have a finalist is amazing,” Leanne Thele, Elijah’s mentor teacher at Jackson High School, said in a Jackson High School news release. “The Jackson High School Science National Honor Society chapter has 23 projects currently underway. We hope that more competition entries over this school will allow more Jackson students to benefit from prizes and scholarships. This finalist nomination from STS tells us we are on the right path for our students interested in STEM at JHS.”

Jones is working on a low-cost method to synthesize two unique drug components found only in a specific plant. If successful, vital drugs for cancer to HIV, that are cost-prohibitive, would be able to be mass produced.

After developing and carrying out the primary steps of his total synthesis of Lindbergin E this past fall, Jones will begin his research on a novel stereoselective phloroglucinol alkylation, considerably a major challenge in modern organic chemistry. He is studying literature on organometallic chemistry in hopes of developing a metal catalyst capable of achieving the goal.

Jones is one of three Jackson High seniors who were awarded $1,000 research stipends to complete high-level research projects, through Science Coach, a program of BioSTL. He was also selected to be part of the Next Project, a local mentorship program.

The 300 students and their schools will receive $2,000 each. Jones is one of five finalists from Missouri.

According to the release, scholars were selected from 1,760 applications received from 611 high schools across 45 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and 10 other countries. Scholars were chosen based on their exceptional research skills, commitment to academics, innovative thinking and promise as scientists, and hail from 198 American and international high schools in 37 states, Puerto Rico, Chinese Taipei and Singapore.

The Regeneron Science Talent Search focuses on identifying, inspiring and engaging the nation’s most promising young scientists who are creating the ideas that could solve society’s most urgent challenges, according to a news release from Society for Science.

“The remarkable drive, creativity and intellectual curiosity that each one of these scholars possesses represents a hopeful outlook for our future and our collective wellbeing,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of Society for Science, publisher of Science News and 1985 Science Talent Search alum. “At a time when many students’ educational experiences are being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am incredibly humbled to see gifted young scientists and engineers eager to contribute fresh insights to solving the world’s most intractable problems.”

Program alumni include recipients of the world’s most coveted science and math honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes, 11 National Medals of Science, six Breakthrough Prizes, 21 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and two Fields Medals.

On Jan. 21, 40 of the 300 scholars will be named Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists. From March 10 to 17, all 40 finalists will compete for more than $1.8 million in awards provided by Regeneron.

To find out more about Jones and his research, visit

To read more about Society for Science and the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2021, visit