The science guy: Wheeler High student has it all and more

I get a lot of calls about students who win prizes and it’s hard to figure out which merit attention. I would have room for nothing else if I listed every student who won a certificate, a $50 gift card or a savings bond.

Darpan Patel is a regional finalist for a top science prize for a cancer related project

Darpan Patel is a regional finalist for a top science prize for a cancer related project

But this Wheeler High School senior deserves a shout-out. Darpan Patel’s achievements are remarkable and remind us that there are many students in “government” schools doing sensational stuff.

Darpan is a regional finalist in the 2009 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. He and 15 other students will present their graduate level research projects this weekend  at Georgia Tech in an effort to win a $3,000 individual prize, a $6,000 team prize and an invitation to the National Finals in New York and a shot at the $100,000 Grand Prize.

Competing for the individual prize, Darpan is the only Georgia student in the regional finals.

The public can view the projects Friday between 5 and 6:30 p.m. at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center Amphitheater 222.

Here is Darpan’s background:

Darpan Patel: He is a student in the Center for Advanced Studies, a competitive admissions science, math & technology magnet housed at Wheeler High School.

HOMETOWN: Marietta

PROJECT: Tumorigenic Potential of a Novel 14-3-3 Adaptor Protein in Lung Cancer

FIELD: Biology

Darpan’s research project in biomedicine has the potential to increase the effectiveness of lung cancer treatments through his marking of a specific protein as a potential target for small molecule intervention in anti-cancer therapeutics.

SNAPSHOT: Darpan is a senior who is captain of the debate team, the science bowl team and the academic quiz team, and an All-State debater. He is also the editor of the Wheeler Literary Magazine. He is a National AP Scholar, a National Merit Semifinalist, a member of the National Honor Society and Science Honor Society inductee. He is fluent in Gujurati and Spanish, and was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey; he lived there for seven years before moving to Georgia.

FUN FACTS: As part of his extracurricular activities, Darpan tutors students in science and math. He also plays piano and violin. His parents – both of whom are scientists – piqued his interest in the subject, asking him questions about how things worked when he was younger; this developed his interest in figuring out how the world works later in life. Darpan considers his mother to be his personal hero, and he attributes the strengths in his personality and drive to succeed directly to her.


Dr. Cheryl Crooks, Science Research Teacher, Wheeler High School, Marietta.

Dr. Zijian Li, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Pharmacology at Emory University School of Medicine

Is there anything left to say besides wow?

23 comments Add your comment


November 5th, 2009
5:36 pm

I agree, Good for him. I love seeing high achievers and he and his parents should be commended!


November 5th, 2009
5:44 pm

And he plays musical instruments, just the area that Fulton elementary principals are trying to throw out of our Fulton elementary schools (instrumental music – orchestra & band). When will people understand that there is a direct connection between music and academic achievement, especially math and sciences? Kudos to him and shame on you Fulton elementary principals!


November 5th, 2009
6:16 pm

Your achievements are truly an inspiration for all of us–congratulations and good luck to you. A huge round of applause for your parents!!!


November 5th, 2009
7:01 pm

Kudos to Darpan! Such an inspiration – it sounds as if he’s doing amazing work, all the more so since he is so young!


November 5th, 2009
7:38 pm

Not to take anything away from Darpan Patel’s excellence…..

There are many “high achievers” in Ga. schools….in fact , in most, if not all government schools. As I have pointed out here before, the top 10% of students in government schools compare quite favorably to the students in private schools.

After teaching thousands of students in my career, Darpan Patel’s accomplishments are in no way surprising to me. Agreed, this young man is exceptionally outstanding. However, I always had a number of outstanding students every year …in government schools. Many each year scored very well on the ACT and the SAT and were admitted to many selective colleges and universities.

My experience is not unique.

It just seems that teachers are never credited for these significant successes. If a child succeeds in a Ga school, the teachers/school are rarely given any credit at all. Even if 60%-70% of their students do adequate/average or very, very well….we only hear about the ones who do not. Why isn’t the focus on WHY the remaining 30%-40% cannot or choose not to achieve?

Ed Johnson

November 5th, 2009
7:58 pm

“His parents … piqued his interest in the subject, asking him questions about how things worked when he was younger; this developed his interest in figuring out how the world works later in life.”

Wonderful! Absolutely wonderful! The power of questioning that keeps clear the way for discovery and learning. How many more deep learners like Darpan might there be but for making the purpose of school to give right answers?

our educational system

November 5th, 2009
9:40 pm

stifles creativity and dreams. it jams everyone into the same standardized mold. push your children to question, investigate and learn through trial and error like the patels.

fight the “test-teaching” going on in today’s public schools

free market educator

November 6th, 2009
12:09 am

Key success factors:
He is of Indian descent. Both parents are scientists. Parents have high standards and expectations for academic success. Mom instructs son at home. He is in a MAGNET school with competitive admissions (copies methods of private school). I’m all for magnet and charter schools, as this is what it takes to get success in a public school. However, I’ve noticed very little support for these types of schools among the regular public school educators on this blog. I wonder why?


November 6th, 2009
9:59 am

Congratulations to a deserving student!! This young man has gone above and beyond our minimum standards and requirements and seems to truly enjoy learning. I bet he never asks “Will this be for a grade?” or “Why do we have to do this?” I wish more students (with parent and teacher encouragement) showed this amount of intellectual curiosity.

Proud Wheeler Mom

November 6th, 2009
10:40 am

From a mother of a Wheeler HS student, congratulations to Darpan for his impressive accomplishments! We are so proud of you for showing the nation what’s going on at Wheeler. Amid all the gloom and doom, this is a clear example of some of the success stories that are coming from the public schools in metro Atlanta. Keep it up! And best of luck at the regional competition!

free market educator,
I don’t see this as an indictment on public schools in the area. I encourage you to visit this part of Cobb and you will see many many stories like this arising from the public schools throughout the area. Whether its the Wheeler student that is a Siemens Regional Finalist, the Walton students that go to Harvard, the Lassiter student that scored a perfect SAT, the Pope students that start their own non-profit to make sure food thrown out by grocery stores makes its way into the hands of the homeless and needy, etc. As busy as Maureen is, there are some wonderful examples of children succeeding in public schools that often don’t get publicized but that doesn’t mean the achievement not there!


November 6th, 2009
11:36 am

free market educator why comment on descent?

wheeler staff person

November 6th, 2009
2:56 pm

What this article has left out is that Darpan is polite, respectful, always pleasant and loved by his teachers and fellow students.

lol who?

November 6th, 2009
4:24 pm

Yeah, well, I beat him on the SAT.

(hi Darpan you now-famous loser; if you see this ilu I promise :x )

Rasik Lathia (Piscataway,NJ)

November 7th, 2009
7:11 am

I am Darpan`s Uncel.I know Darpan since,the time he borned.He always like hourse and now he is really turned in to super hourse power in all area of acadamy. Wow! is not enough for Darapn to greet !!! He is really unbelivable super hourse power in acadamic and all other field.Dapam you are not just unbelivable but beyound that..far far….above the level.Keep your goal high.I am proude of you and the Lathia family.All the best… Rasik uncle


November 7th, 2009
10:36 am

@LOL Who?
Cyberbully much?

jayesh patel

November 8th, 2009
2:58 pm

darpan, enough have already been said and expressed about your outstanding feat. This is a vindication of your genius, and hard work you have been putting in for years. Take this as just a wonderful begging of more outstanding achievements to come in future. All The Best!!

alex kalany

November 9th, 2009
7:41 pm

i have a man crush on him, he is so cool


November 10th, 2009
10:38 pm

Darpan, your hard work it really amazing! You will surely go on to do great things with your life! You are an inspiration to us all! :)

Mina and Hasmukh Patel

November 11th, 2009
11:24 am

Darpan, you are a role model for our entire family. Just go and grab what
ever you can.Lots of luck and wishes. Congratulation again and again.

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Ishaan Patel

December 29th, 2009
9:03 pm

OMG this guy is my cousin and i am so proud of him!!!!!!!! Great job Darpan, i always knew you would be the genius out the family.

Dhara Patel

January 2nd, 2010
1:27 pm

I’m so proud of you brother!Congratulations brother!! I always knew that you would achieve in math, social studies, and science. I hope you are doing well on your projects. I hope you get a very good award when you are older!
Love your sister,

D'anthony Watson

January 22nd, 2010
8:51 am

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