Pioneer | Featured Online Research Projects for High School Students

Research Papers

Thalia Ou Pioneer research journal summary image

Adverse Selection in the Chinese Healthcare System: Reducing Information Asymmetry to Optimize the Utilization of Hospital Capacity

About the scholar: Thalia Ou grew up in China and attended Branksome Hall in Toronto, Canada

The Research:

In China, where individuals choose where to receive their healthcare, higher level hospitals are overwhelmed and lower level hospitals underutilized. Pioneer scholar Thalia points out that this disparity is caused by “information asymmetry” rather than quality of care. The more famous hospitals attract more patients and become more famous; the less well known local hospitals, which provide greater patient satisfaction, remain relatively unknown. Because her research showed one source of the problem is the online registration platforms that inform prospective patients about available services and quality of care, Thalia suggests the government expand and update them to be more comprehensive.

Yixuan Pioneer research journal summary image

Computational Fluid Dynamics Pilot Prediction Model of Vulnerable Plaque in the Femoral Artery

About the Scholar: Yixuan Zhao grew up in China and attended Shenzhen College of International Education in Shenzhen, China

The Research:

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a widespread disease that is commonly signaled by a buildup of plaque in the femoral artery. This plaque can cause ruptures that lead to strokes and even death. Although plaque in other arteries has been studied extensively, little attention has been paid to the femoral artery. Pioneer scholar Yixuan used the diagnostic possibilities of computational fluid dynamics to design a prototype of a non-invasive predictive system that would be easy for doctors and patients to understand, and could lead to the development of personalized treatments to address the disease in its early stages.

Tianhao Pioneer reasearch Journal summary image

Comparison of Determinants of Entrepreneurial Intentions in China and the United States

About the Scholar: Tianhao Li grew up in China and attended Beijing National Day School in Beijing, China

The Research:

“There is a growing consensus across governments and educational institutions that entrepreneurship is a crucial driver of future economic growth, innovation, and job creation.” This understanding is the basis for Pioneer scholar Tianhao’s decision to research the factors that motivate entrepreneurship in China and the United States, with the goal of encouraging more focused educational opportunities for potential entrepreneurs. Drawing on data provided by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and using the Theory of Planned Behavior as an analytic tool, Tianhao identified similarities and differences between the two countries, and some anomalous time periods in China that merit further research.

Qiqing Pioneer research journal

Mangrove Forests Mitigate Tsunami Hazard and Require Conservation

About the Scholar: Qiqing Li grew up in China and attended Shenzhen Middle School in Shenzhen, China

The Research:

In regions that suffer from tsunamis, typhoons, and storms, mangrove forests can protect shorelines and ensure human safety. They act as a natural barrier, stop drifts, and reduce the energy of a tsunami, thereby saving lives. They also offer benefits such as forest products, habitat for fisheries, biofiltration, carbon emission reduction, and recreation and tourism. Nevertheless, mangrove forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world, disappearing at an unsustainable rate. In this paper, Qiqing proposes protecting and restoring this valuable environmental resource through enforcement of existing environmental laws, reforestation, and restoration of proper water flow.

Pioneer research journal for high school students

Exit, Voice, and Violence: Contemporary Responses of Non-Hindu Groups to the BJP’s Hindu Nationalism

About the scholar: Rushil Roy grew up in the United States, and attended Monte Vista High School in Danville, California, USA

The Research:

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), known for its adherence to and propagation of Hindu nationalist values, has been India’s dominant political power since 1998. Their policies, which include restricting Muslim immigration and framing Muslims as terrorists, led Pioneer scholar Rushil to ask how India’s non-Hindu groups have responded to the BJP’s nationalism. He considers Albert Hirschman’s three “valid responses” to state-sponsored oppression: exit (emigration), voice (advocacy), and loyalty (capitulation), and concludes that in India, the response has instead been primarily political violence in response to the BJP’s “weaponization” of social welfare by denying social services to predominantly minority regions.

Pioneer research journal for high school students

Macrophage Migration Inhibition Factor: A Cancer Promoter, Potential Prognosticator and Chemotherapeutic Target

About the scholar: Yuting Huang grew up in China and attended Culver Academies in Culver, Indiana, USA

The Research:

Macrophage Migration Inhibition Factor (MIF) has been shown to promote the growth of tumors in several different kinds of cancer. Pioneer scholar Yuting wondered if identifying increased MIF production might be an early indicator of cancer, and if finding ways of counteracting such production might be a promising treatment. She proposes a series of experiments to test MIF levels in patients with and without cancer, and to test the effectiveness of various MIF production suppressors, some of which might be used along with current cancer treatments. The goal is to improve cancer treatment while reducing its harm to the patient.

Pioneer research journal for high school students

Blockchain: Building a Path to Utopia

About the scholar: Ziyang Zheng grew up in China and attended The Experimental High School Attached to Beijing Normal University in Beijing, China

The Research:

“Blockchain technology is used to build a decentralized and anonymous transaction system. With blockchain technology, people no longer need trusted third parties such as banks to build trust between each other.” Since this money-saving new technology is so popular, it is important that it be secure and reliable. Pioneer scholar Ziyang describes the essential parts of the blockchain, ways that the partners in the system can agree on essential details, and some successful applications, including Bitcoin. He then creates his own blockchain application, a way to share information about student activities to make evaluating college applications more efficient.

Pioneer research journal for high school students

Comparative Analysis of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Santa Maria Della Neve and Huang Gongwang’s The Remaining Mountain

About the Scholar: Shuyu Chen grew up in China and attended Wuhan Foreign Languages School in Wuhan, China

The Research:

Chinese artist Huang Gongwang and one of the world’s best known Renaissance artists, Leonardo da Vinci, lived and worked two hundred years apart and in entirely different cultures that were not interacting during their lifetimes. Nevertheless, Pioneer scholar Shuyu Chen noticed some clear similarities between Leonardo’s uncharacteristic early work Landscape Drawing for Santa Maria Della Neve, and Huang Gongwang’s The Remaining Mountain, originally part of a much larger scroll that was damaged by fire. Despite obvious differences in materials, size and other physical and artistic characteristics, Shuyu concludes that Leonardo’s work reflects “the Chinese philosophy of appreciating nature.”

Pioneer research journal for high school students

Intangible Assets: The Cause of Veblen Goods: A Breakdown of the Intangible Factors that Drive Pricing Premiums

About the scholar: Vardaan Tekriwal grew up in Indonesia and attended the Jakarta Intercultural School in Jakarta, Indonesia

The Research:

A Veblen good is one that defies the usual market trend by increasing in sales as its price increases. Pioneer scholar Vardaan theorized that two kinds of “intangible assets” can be used by companies to create more Veblen goods. Marketing and promotion can result in brand recognition; research and development can increase a company’s intellectual and creative rights, such as patents, copyrights and trademarks. Through data analysis of several companies in two distinct sectors, Vardaan concluded that increased brand recognition helps the consumer clothing industry “Veblenize” goods, while intellectual and creative rights are more helpful to the consumer electronics industry.

Pioneer research journal for high school students

East European Jewish Children’s Health Conditions on the Lower East Side, New York City, 1890-1914

About the scholar: Yibing Du grew up in China and attended The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China in Beijing, China

The Research:

From 1890 to 1914, more than 2,000,000 East European Jews emigrated to America. Many of them settled in New York City’s Lower East Side, one of the most crowded and least sanitary areas of the city. Yet Jewish children had a consistently lower mortality rate than most other groups, including American-born citizens. Yibing analyzes the commonly proposed reasons for this surprising statistic—good sanitary habits, low alcoholism, and a strong philanthropic tradition—and concludes that philanthropic activity that provided the community’s own medical resources countered the harmful effects of an anti-Semitism that fostered neglect of the immigrants’ needs.

Pioneer research journal for high school students

Impact of School Facilities on the Quality of Senior High School Education in China: A Quantitative Study

About the Scholar: Chen Zhou grew up in China and attended Jiaxiang Foreign Languages School attached to Chengdu No. 7 Middle School in Chengdu, China

The Research:

Since about 2006, the emphasis of China’s educational program seems to have shifted from quantity of education to quality. Chen looks at a number of school “facilities,” and compares them with the standardized scores of graduates to look for those that might foster better outcomes. Factors correlated with positive results include larger class size (a surprise), a longer school history, a stronger pupil-teacher ratio, a city location (with a few exceptions), and private ownership, which usually means better financing. The presence of a library and student numbers show no influence. Studying other factors could help clarify these results.

Pioneer research journal for high school students

How Effective is Fiscal Policy in Correcting Income Inequality?

About the Scholar: Tongxin Zhang grew up in China and attended WHBC of Wuhan Foreign Languages School in Wuhan, China

The Research:

Income equality has a close correlation with social well-being, including higher life expectancy, lower crime rates, and a stable economy. Although most governments have instituted policies to lower income inequality, primarily through social spending to support the elderly, low-income households, and other vulnerable groups, income inequality continues to increase. Tongxin examines two developed economies, the US and the UK, to analyze which policies work best to reduce income inequality. He concludes that a combination of progressive taxes (those who earn more pay a higher percentage), sufficiently high government tax income, and sufficiently high targeted spending would be most effective.

Pioneer research journal for high school students

A World of Possibility: Tier-Oriented Base-Storage Network for CCN Routing

About the Scholar: Yuchen Xu grew up in China and attended The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China in Beijing, China

The Research:

Although information technology use increases constantly, the basic model for how it works has remained the same: the user’s computer connects to the host. This model now has problems of speed and available IP addresses, and a different approach to networking is needed. CCN (Content Centric Networking) focuses on the content being sought rather than the location, raising the problem of routing: how to connect the inquiry with the desired material. Pioneer scholar Yuchen uses this paper to analyze the most common routing methods and proposes a new model: tier-oriented base-storage network (TOBS). With further work, his approach could deliver information with speed and efficiency.

Pioneer research journal for high school students

From the Dark Knight to Francis Underwood: Twenty-first Century Noir Heroes

About the Scholar: Lu Zeng grew up in China and attended Shenzhen Foreign Languages School in Shenzhen, China

The Research:

When the world changed on 9/11/2001, the new enemy, terrorism, needed a new kind of hero. Lu suggests that just as the cultural trauma inspired by terrorism was created in part by media coverage of terrorist acts, the creation of “noir heroes” in the tradition of those of the 1940s and 1950s helped address the trauma. Two contrasting examples are The Dark Knight from the Batman series, who helps mitigate the fear of terrorism, and Francis Underwood of House of Cards, a US President who is a terrorist. Lu expects that future events will call for more noir heroes.

Nabo Journal image

Analysis of Testing Accuracy Threshold for COVID-19 through an SIR Computational Model

About the Scholar: Nabo Yu attended The Webb Schools in Claremont, California, in the United States.

The Research:

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the accuracy of tests was so variable that some countries chose not to use tests at all, but instead isolate symptomatic individuals. Pioneer scholar Nabo thought computer simulations could shed light on the effects of testing accuracy on the spread of the disease. His SIR model computational calculations confirm that higher testing accuracy can result in reduced disease spread, and show that even lower accuracy testing is useful in slowing the transmission rate. According to Nabo, the model “has possibly offered a basic method of determining acceptable levels of testing accuracy based on the level of social isolation.”

Sarah Journal image

Science in Women’s Cosmetics of 17th Century Europe

About the scholar: Sarah Liu grew up in China and attended Kent School in Kent, Connecticut, USA.

The Research:

The well-known figures of the Scientific Revolution of the 15th to 18th centuries were men such as Galileo, Copernicus and Kepler. However, although women could not receive formal education in science and were limited in their activities to the domestic sphere, they employed the growing understanding of the nature of the world in their own writings: “recipe books” that covered cookery, domestic medicine, and cosmetics. Pioneer scholar Sarah analyzes the recipes for the least studied of these, cosmetics, in three popular works from the period, and finds the authors had a surprisingly deep experimental knowledge of botany, chemistry and biology.

Sumin Journal image

The Invisible Culture of Pain and the Opioid Crisis

About the scholar: Sumin Yoon grew up in South Korea and attended The School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.

The Research:

“Although the biological mechanisms of opioid overdose and dependence are thoroughly researched, our understanding of why Americans turn toward opioids in the first place is rarely discussed.” This clear discrepancy led Pioneer scholar Sumin to investigate the causes of addiction through a review of previous studies and his own personal interviews. He concluded that the opioid crisis is driven by “a complex network of socioeconomic factors, medicalization of addiction, social pain, and stress.” Attempts to address the crisis by limiting the availability of opioids and criminalizing abusers without considering the root causes of addition are bound to fail.

Guankai Journal image

A Historical Study of the Ergonomic Considerations in Aircraft

About the Scholar: Guankai Zhai grew up in China and attended Jining Confucius International School in Jining and YK Pao School in Shanghai, China.

The Research:

Beginning with the great increase in commercial aviation following World War II, the interaction of cockpit crew members with one another and their increasingly automated aviation systems began to be studied with the goal of preventing accidents. In this paper, Pioneer scholar Guankai traces the history of both the development of cockpit instruments and the attempts to facilitate pilot/crew/instrument interactions through Cockpit Resource Management (CRM) Training Programs. Guankai analyzes six stages of CRM training development from 1981 through the beginning of the 21st century, and concludes that similar kinds of training could benefit such increasingly automated fields as medical surgery.

Xu Journal image

Potential for Developers and Investors in Diabetes Apps to Profit by Improving the Chinese Healthcare Industry

About the Scholar: Cheng Xu grew up in China and attended WHBC of Wuhan Foreign Languages School in Wuhan, China.

The Research:

At least one in ten Chinese adults suffers from diabetes, accounting for 13% of national healthcare expenditure. Computer apps can provide reminders and monitor conditions to help people with diabetes make the lifestyle changes that are necessary to control the disease, but Cheng found only 40 Chinese apps, compared with 260 available on iTunes for the iPhone. She concludes that “the Chinese diabetes apps market is immature and needs improvement,” and recommends the creation of apps that would help provide patients with access to the entire range of services, potentially creating a 120-billion-yuan industry and saving countless lives.

Xiangyu Journal image

Ethical Considerations of State Responsibility toward Refugees: Analyzing China’s Refugee Capacity from a Socio-Economic Perspective

About the Scholar: Xiangyu Zheng grew up in China and attended the International Department of the Affiliated High School of South China Normal University in Guangzhou, China.

The Research:

More than five million Syrian refugees have fled the country since 2011. Lebanon, with a pre-conflict population of four million people, hosts one million refugees, and China, with the world’s second-largest economy and a population of 1.3 billion, has accepted fewer than 30. To analyze whether China has a responsibility to do more, Xiangyu analyzes the issue from the perspective of the UN Refugee Convention and three theoretical positions: cosmopolitanism, utilitarianism, and communitarianism. Based on his own “pragmatic cosmopolitanism,” he concludes that China could realistically offer strong support and a high quality of life to two million Syrian refugees.

Kehui Journal image

Descartes’ Justification of the Reliability of Memory

About the scholar: Kehui Guo grew up in China and attended Beijing World Youth Academy in Beijing, China.

The Research:

Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy claims to prove the existence of a perfect God and the immortality of the human soul. It relies in large part on the “dream argument,” which notes the difficulty human beings often have in distinguishing between very realistic dreams and being awake. Descartes concludes that one can distinguish between the dreaming experience and the waking experience because of the reliability of one’s memory. Kehui’s paper challenges this assumption with recent scientific information about the unreliability of memory. He concludes that Descartes’ circular reasoning makes his argument unconvincing.

Ruibing Journal image

Identification of Reliable Predictor of Primary Spontaneous Pneumothorax Recurrence Risk

About the Scholar: Ruibing Xu grew up in China and attended Shenzhen Foreign Languages School in Shenzhen, China.

The Research:

Primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP), the accumulation of gas in the pleural cavity without underlying lung disease, is a common problem. Women and people who are taller and thinner have the highest risk of recurrence. Ruibing’s paper proposes an experiment to determine whether the under expression of certain hormones and/or growth-related proteins might lead to both increased height and decreased weight, and the higher risk for recurrence of PCP.  Her results could lead to the development of more precise and effective treatments, both improving the quality of life for many people and reducing health care costs.

Sahana Journal image

Human Intuition, Perception, and Execution of a Five-Beat Versus a Seven-Beat Rhythmic Cycle

About the Scholar: Sahana Prasanna grew up in the United States and attended Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, California.

The Research:

Traditional Western music is mostly based on two-beat or three-beat patterns. Eastern music can be quite different in structure. Pioneer scholar Sahana, who has been studying South Indian Carnatic music, assumed that the five-beat and seven-beat patterns of much of this music must be ingrained in the intuition of people who grew up with it. She wondered how people whose experience is of Western music could develop the intuition, execution and perception necessary to understand and respond to this music. She found that, contrary to her expectations, seven-beat patterns were easier than five-beat patterns for Western listeners to perceive.

Xinshi Journal image

An Institutional Analysis of the Military’s Role in the Egyptian Economy

About the Scholar: Xinshi Ma grew up in China and Egypt and attended BASIS International School Shenzhen in Shenzhen, China.

The Research:

For the 30 years of Hosni Mubarak’s presidency, Egypt’s military played a much smaller role in the economy than it had under the two previous leaders, Nasser and Sadat. After the 2011 Revolution, the military became more active again. Pioneer scholar Xinshi wondered if, under military leadership, the country’s economy showed more actual strength than the superficial growth of Mubarak’s days, which was offset by widespread corruption. He concluded that on the whole, the military was protecting its own interests and major concerns still remain: continuing political corruption, stifling of competition, mismanagement of public resources, and inhibition of institutional reform.

Cheng Journal image

An Investigation in Tournaments with Bidirectional Arcs

About the Scholar: Cheng Qian grew up in China and attended Tsinghua University High School in Beijing, China

The Research:

Directed graphs are used widely in such real-world situations as flow networks in pipes and abstract representations of computer programs. Tournaments are directed graphs that can represent visually the various players in a game. Each arc of the graph is traditionally unidirectional, but Pioneer scholar Cheng wondered what new applications might evolve if one or more of the arcs was bidirectional.

Using his math skills, Cheng tested his hypotheses about bidirectional arcs on several standard models, including Euler digraphs and Hamiltonian paths. His new theorem could be applied to such problems as the optimal arrangement of one-way and two-way streets.

Vikhyath Journal image

A Complex Networks Approach to Analysing the Erdős-Straus Conjecture and Related Problems

About the Scholar: Vikhyath Mondreti grew up in India and attended The International School Bangalore in Bangalore, India.

The Research:

Computational networks are now widely used to analyze the relationships of elements in intricate systems in all fields of study, from pure mathematics to the social sciences. The Erdős-Straus Conjecture, while not fully proven, has been strongly supported by other studies. Pioneer scholar Vikhyath wondered if using the Erdős-Straus Conjecture as the basis for a computational network might help address a particular class of problems pertaining to fixed-length unit fraction splits. His simple directed network model, the Erdős-Straus Conjecture graph, yielded promising results in addressing the problems, and also indicated further support for the accuracy of the Conjecture.

Baoyan Journal image

The Transformation of Hip-Hop Music Lyrics in China under Political Censorship from 2017 to 2018

About the Scholar: Baoyan Ye grew up in China and attended the High School Affiliated to Shanghai Jiaotong University in Shanghai, China.

 The Research:

In the summer of 2017, The Rap of China, a reality competition show, brought Chinese hip-hop music from underground to mainstream in just two months. Chinese hip-hop artists followed two main stylistic paths: incorporating western conventions; and trying to create a distinctively Chinese style. Vulgar language and explicit sexual themes led to hip-hop being banned at the beginning of 2018. However, the second season of The Rap of China showcased artists continuing to produce music with a distinctively Chinese character. Baoyan wonders if this new form of music can take its place on the international stage as genuine hip-hop.

Yutong Journal image 1

The Silver Lining Behind the Darkness: Social Media as an Innovative Tool to Combat Sex Trafficking in Southeast Asia

About the Scholar: Yutong Huang grew up in China and attended The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University in Guangzhou, China

The Research:

Sex trafficking is one of the most pervasive forms of slavery in the world today, affecting several million people, mostly children, annually. Southeast Asia is a major hub of sex trafficking, and while the governments of the Southeast Asian countries have signed on to international declarations against sex trafficking, little actual progress has been made.

Yutong proposes adding social media to the tools used to combat sex trafficking, using Facebook and Twitter and techniques including facial recognition, term-frequency analysis, mapping, crowdsourcing, online chat rooms, forums, and signal transmitter to help address the three aspects of prevention, prosecution, and protection.

Ruochen Journal image

A Blended Culture: Greater Houston Area’s Native American Children’s Contest Powwow

About the Scholar: Ruochen Jin grew up in Canada and attended The Woodlands High School in The Woodlands, Texas, USA.

The Research:

Most Native American communities value passing on their traditions to their children, who are mostly immersed in today’s technological American culture. Contest powwows are one way to do this. To examine how these events balance the two cultural influences, Pioneer scholar Ruochen not only consulted previous research on the topic, but also attended a Children’s Powwow in the Greater Houston area and later interviewed a representative sample of the participants. Her observations were that at least at this powwow, the balance is maintained by preserving the sacred aspects of the event, while permitting cultural fusion of other aspects.

Justine Kum Journal image

Social Media and Its Effects on the Foreign Language Curriculum for Undergraduate University Students

About the Scholar: Justine Kum grew up in South Korea and attended Dulwich College Seoul in Seoul, South Korea.

The Research:

With nearly 60% of the world now connected by the internet, social media is becoming “more dominant and essential in modern life.” Pioneer scholar Justine wondered how social media might be used to promote cultural competence and language skills among university students. Her paper explores the social media models available for language study, the drawbacks of social media’s “shorthand” language, and the effectiveness of social media in teaching language skills and cultural diversity. Justine’s conclusion is that social media learning is most useful for students who already have some grasp of the language and are ready for deeper cultural understanding.

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  • Considering students have significantly fewer options for their summer enrichment, Pioneer adjusted the cohort size from maximum 5 to maximum 6 so that we can offer the opportunity to more students. Please be aware that Pioneer will only expand cohorts which we feel sure will not be compromised in any way by a slight increase in participation. Some areas, therefore, may stay at a maximum of 5 because the nature of the course requires heavier coaching.


  • Pioneer admissions still requires the same application materials, but we may adjust the timing in response to current realities. If you can work with your counselor to collect your official transcript and counselor evaluation and submit them soon after you submit your application, it will speed up the process. Pioneer admissions requires an official transcript and counselor evaluation to process applications for the final round. If these items won't be available during the process due to COVID-19, applicants must submit evidence that the school's counseling office is closed. Pioneer admissions will then decide what adjustment shall be granted.