Darien high school student named semi-finalist in science research competition

Andrew Mauboussin poses with his award for being a semi-finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search competition.
Andrew Mauboussin poses with his award for being a semi-finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search competition.Contributed Photo

Finding a connection between fund managers and their skill at selecting winning investments may not appeal to many high school students, but for one senior, it led to a semi-finalist run in a national competition.

Andrew Mauboussin, a senior at Darien High School, was named as a semi-finalist in a national contest that challenged students to submit original scientific research on a topic of their choosing.

"I did my project over the course of my junior year," Mauboussin said. "My mentor [Same Arbesman] is a research fellow at Harvard and the purpose of the research was to be able to quantify the skill of mutual fund managers."

Mauboussin's research delved into the issue of whether or not fund managers require skill in order to select investments. As part of his research, Mauboussin compiled a catalog of financial streaks from 1962 to 2008.

"We created a computer model and then compared the number of streaks to real life streaks," Mauboussin said. "We found that there were more streaks in real life which suggested that there was actual skill involved."

Mauboussin said he went to Harvard over the summer as part of an internship and took a class while continuing to perform research on the financial streaks.

"I took a class and went to the lab every other day," Mauboussin said. "I did the paper over the course of the summer."

The entry process for the Intel Science Talent Search, which is the competition Mauboussin was competing in, requires a lengthy application process, Mauboussin said.

According to the Intel STS application process, entrants are required to answer short answer and essay questions, submit their research paper for review, teacher recommendations are required and official copies of the student's transcript are required.

As a semi-finalist, Mauboussin joined a group of 300 other semi-finalists who all receive a $1,000 prize for their research. As an added benefit, the school the semi-finalist attends also receives a $1,000 prize. Mauboussin was competing against 1,700 other applicants in the competition.

Superintendent of Schools Stephen Falcone was very proud of Mauboussin's accomplishments.

"The thing that gives me the most pride is that students are working with adults both inside and outside the school setting on professional projects," Falcone said. "When you can encourage a student like Andrew to take ownership of a project, that is very empowering for the student."

Falcone said the benefits of engaging in the type of work Mauboussin has done goes beyond simply learning about a particular topic.

"There are other skills like the research, writing and presenting that can be transferred out the school setting," Falcone said.

When asked about whether he would continue doing quantitative social sciences research in the future, Mauboussin said he would, but was unsure about what he would pursue as a major while in college.

"The financial sector is one of many options I would consider for potential employment, I am really still completely undecided," Mauboussin said. "Other possibilities include going into research or academia."