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Byram Hills' Dominick Rowan Makes Siemens Finals For Planet Discovery

Byram Hills senior Dominick Rowan with David Keith, director of the high school’s Authentic Science Research Program.
Byram Hills senior Dominick Rowan with David Keith, director of the high school’s Authentic Science Research Program. Photo Credit: Byram Hills Central School District

ARMONK, N.Y. -- Detecting a new planet has helped earn a Byram Hills High School senior top individual honors in the regional finals of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, one of the nation's most prestigious science competitions for high school students.

Dominick Rowan learned recently that he would advance to this month’s national finals.

"Dominick discovered a new planet – only the 20th Jupiterlike planet that has ever been discovered," said competition judge Matt Walker, assistant professor in the physics department at Carnegie Mellon University. "Finding other ‘Jupiters’ is important because Jupiter may have helped to make life on Earth possible, helping to clear out asteroids in the inner solar system. Ultimately this research gets to the profound question of, 'Are we alone?'"

“It’s an incredible honor for Dominick,” said Byram Hills High School Principal Chris Borsari.

Rowan is Byram Hills’ first finalist in the Siemens competition and part of the high school’s highly regarded Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program. Rowan will compete in Washington, D.C., in early December for $500,000 in scholarships.

David Keith, Byram Hills’ program director, described Rowan “as an extraordinarily modest young man who put literally hundreds of hours of work” into his research project, which involved the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin.

“For the Byram Hills community, quiet Dominick is now a loud inspiration for the students who will follow in his footsteps,” said Keith.

Through the high school research program, about 100 Byram Hills students perform long-term, independent research while learning how to conduct investigations and present findings. Dominick won a $3,000 scholarship for his project, titled, "Determining the Frequency of Jupiter Analogs and the Announcement of a Jupiter Analog Orbiting HD32963."

Rowan, who first became interested in science when he joined his middle school's Science Olympiad team, hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in astrophysics and a career as a researcher. He also plays bass guitar in the high school jazz band and French horn in its wind symphony band, and runs winter and spring track.

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