These 3 Teens Are Working Hard To Bring Forth Some Changes In The Future
The Intel Science Talent Search gave 40 student finalists from across the country were a chance to show off their research and win some excellent prizes to help keep it going. These teens are just 3 of many that are leading science and technological innovation today. Changing the world isn’t easy, but thank goodness that we have such high overachievers at such a young age.
Kriti Lall, 17, of Fremont, CA, was inspired to look into water treatment after volunteering in a village in India.In her observations, she learned that arsenic poisoning from drinking water is a huge problem. Nearly 137 million people in 70 countries suffer from it, according to a 2007 study. This might soon become the next world catastrophe.
In order to get rid of the arsenic in the water, she genetically engineered bacteria through a technique called “bioremediation.” The bacteria convert arsenic into a different form that’s much easier to remove from water. Lall went as far as to build a bioreactor — and it only cost $8 mind you— using commonly found materials. The bioreactor can remove arsenic from water at a staggering rate of four gallons per hour.
“Our school’s motto is ‘Women learning, women leading’ and that’s really emphasized throughout everything we do,” Lall says. “We are all treated as responsible adults who have full capabilities regardless of gender… It just becomes second nature to us. Like, if someone asks, ‘Can you do this?’ Yeah, of course we can.”
“Stereotypes exist,” she continues, “but they shouldn’t define you or your capabilities in any way. What you can do is really only defined by you; it’s not defined by anyone else. You set your own limits.”
Emily Ashkin, 17, of Matthews, NC, first started looking into oncology research at age 11, just after her mother was diagnosed with skin cancer. In her studies she learned that even though immunotherapy can be successful in using the body’s own immune system to fight off cancer cells, it will not work for everyone. This is because those cancer cells are able to hide themselves. Since then, Ashkin focused her work on finding a way to lift those cells’ masks and target the malicious cells.
She’s has found that when a protein called TOP1, is blocked, the cell masks come off — making it easier for the immune system to recognize the cancer cells. She hopes to combine this tactic with other treatments so that immunotherapy will work for a wider range of patients.
It’s so easy to see all these male scientists making such an impact in their field, and we forget about the women,” Ashkin says. “But, I’ve had a unique experience [in that] one of the first labs I worked in was an all-female lab. It taught me that women can make a difference. We can easily prove ourselves to be just as intelligent — just as impactful as men.”
Anvita Gupta, 17, of Scottsdale, AZ, started a computer science club for her fellow middle schoolers after watching three quarters of the girls in her AP computer science class drop out, even though they had better grades than the boys.
“I liked seeing how something I wrote on the computer could translate into a motion of this machine,” she says. “I thought if we could introduce girls to experiences like that from a younger age, maybe we can get those girls invested in the field. Once that happens, I think they’re much less likely to leave.”
The girls in that class are making their own apps, including one that helps people learn CPR by telling you when you’re applying the right amount of pressure.
She is currently working on ways to find the most influential proteins in pancreatic cancer.
“Stick with it. Everyone has trouble learning these new technologies. You’re at the same place as everyone else, so just stick with it and believe in yourself.”