Ankush Dhawan

Ankush Dhawan, a high school student in Indiana. (YouTube screen grab)

A high school junior at Indiana-based Signature School, Ankush Dhawan, will have a minor planet, or asteroid, named after him through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory.

Dhawan, 16, will have the distinction – something only 15,000 other people have been bestowed – for finishing second in the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, according to a Courier & Press report (see India-West story here).

"I've always been interested in engineering and the environment," Dhawan, who said he has been competing in science fairs since he was in seventh grade, told the publication. "I first was exposed to science from my parents and my brother."

This year, Dhawan was awarded the Top Young Scientist prize at the Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair, the report added.

For his fair project, he created a kit that tests poisonous arsenic levels in water.

"Arsenic is a poisonous heavy metal that is found in drinking water all across the world. Over 130 million people have suffered from arsenic contaminated water," Dhawan added in the report. "I developed a method to test arsenic and quantify it at trace levels that is an improvement in cost and effectiveness over current tests methods."

Dhawan proposed his test kit is 10 times cheaper and faster than current test kits, the report said.

After placing first at the Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair, Dhawan was selected to participate in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the largest pre-college science competition in the world, it said.

"Over 1,700 kids from over 80 countries came together to share their research," Dhawan noted in the report.

The young student placed second in his category and said in the report that MIT Lincoln Labs numbers asteroids in the asteroid belt but are always looking for names, adding that all of the first and second place awardees have the honor of getting an asteroid named after them.

Dhawan said he would like to eventually use his arsenic test kit to help people affected by arsenic contaminated water across the world, he added in the report.

"I've filed for a (provisional) patent. It highlights my project and a prototype test kit I developed," he told the publication.

"I would like to potentially commercialize this in the future and get it out to the people who are suffering from arsenic contamination, in areas such as Bangladesh and India. Those are places where contamination is the worst," he said.

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