Meet Regan Williams

Regan Williams was born in Toronto, Canada and her family lived in Davis, CA, followed by Princeton, NJ, before settling in Wilmington, North Carolina. Her mother works at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and her father worked as an epidemiologist before passing away when Regan was in 7th grade.  She has been active in sports, playing soccer each year starting at 5 years old and running cross country and track in High School. Regans is currently  a Junior at John T Hoggard High School where she plays Cello in the orchestra.


Growing up with both parents as scientists was an inspiration for her, but she also always loved the puzzle aspect of science, describing her passion as liking to meld the analytical science side of her with the creative problem solving side. She also loves to communicate and talk to people about the things that she is passionate about.

Her experience with STEM research started with biology projects in 4th grade.  This was a field where her mother was comfortable and they liked to do the exploration together. Recently she has become more interested in computer science and melding this with the other sciences, especially the modeling aspect, to create new solutions. In elementary school she was given the option of doing a project in grade 4 and participated with all other 5th grade students the following year. In middle school, her school did not host a science and engineering fair, but that did not stop her from continuing her explorations, instead she completed her projects and entered competitions independently.

She sees the Science and Engineering fairs as being a huge part of her life, noting that she has spent a lot of time on the projects and met a bunch of people. As she continued to compete in the regional fairs, she began to know kids, judges, coordinators, and other people.  During her middle school years she completed a project that focused on predator/prey interaction in the salt march, measuring how high Periwinkle snails climbed on the seagrass and how they interacted with the blue crab.  Based on this work she was nominated to apply to Broadcomm MASTERS, where she met a really good friend along with many other young researchers from across the country. She loved the opportunity to meet other people with a similar interest in science and engineering. Looking back on this experience Regan noted, “This is where I started to feel like I was good at this, enjoyed it, and wanted to keep doing it.”

Regan has been promoted to the State Science and Engineering Fair (NCSEF) each year and in 2021 she was promoted through NCSEF to the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). In 2021 ISEF was fully virtual and Regan recalls feeling “blown away” by the whole process. As a competitor she was able to explore with her avatar and watch some of the speakers and panels after the school day.  The judging for ISEF was during AP Exam week and track finals.  Fortunately, she was able to reschedule her exam for the summer.

Regan was able to watch both awards ceremonies, but due to her humility logged of the special awards early thinking that when she did not receive the NASA pulse of the planet award (which she had won at NCSEF she was not going to be awarded anything else.  However, before bed that evening she scrolled through the awards and found her name listed for the Susie and Gideon Yu Awards for Innovation in Sustainability. She was so excited that she woke her mother and together they ran down the road to share with the neighbors.  Similarly, she had a math final during the grand awards live stream and learned of her Plan Sciences award via text after the final upon receiving her phone back.  Below are the detailed description of the two awards:

PLANT SCIENCES - Second Award of $2,000 

PLNT036 — Tropicalization of Temperate Ecosystems: How Climate Change Can Influence ● Regan Williams, John T Hoggard High School; Wilmington, NC, United States of America

Susie and Gideon Yu Awards for Innovation in Sustainability 

The Susie and Gideon Yu Awards for Innovation in Sustainability recognizes students whose innovative project focuses on conservation of natural resources and sustainability. It is supported by the Susie and Gideon Yu Foundation. Mr. Gideon Yu of Hillsborough, CA, a 1989 ISEF Grand Award winner in Environmental Sciences. Mr. Yu is a co-owner and former President of the San Francisco 49ers. Mr. Yu is a Trustee of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and he and his wife Susie are generous donors to anti-poverty programs and scholarship programs. First Award of $25,000 

PLNT036 — Tropicalization of Temperate Ecosystems: How Climate Change Can Influence ● Regan Williams, John T Hoggard High School, Wilmington, NC, United States of America

As a junior, Regan is beginning to take courses in computer systems and programming and is planning to eventually enroll in Calculus through UNC-W. She is considering dual enrollment with Cape Fear Community Colleges too. As she did in prior years she will also take AP classes and continue to play in the Orchestra to feed her creativity.

In the future Regan plans to attend college, but is not yet sure which major of University she will select. She is focused now on trying activities and getting into the classes she wants in high school and hopes to narrow down my college interest across the year. In her last two years of high school, she is interested in branching out to learn about what she might want to focus on in the future.

We asked Regan to provide 1 piece of advice for a young person who is interested in Science or Engineering.  Her advice was:

“Your actual project is less important than how you communicate it. I have always tried to be confident in my presentation and convey my passion. You don’t need access to Universities, money, the best materials, and mentors to do a good project. Convey that love for science and innovation everytime you talk about it and people will notice that. 

Even if you don’t live in an area with a lot of Universities, this is a great way to meet others.”