At least five Indian American students are among 35 global teens who have been named 2020 Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leaders by the We Are Family Foundation.
Carefully selected and curated from hundreds of applicants, these 15-19-year-old teens are innovating technologies and harnessing creativity to positively impact the world.
The Indian American students included Ishaan Brar, Kasyap Chakravadhanula, Laalitya Acharya, Neil Deshmukh and Shreya Ramachandran. Three students from India, Arunima Sen, Harsh Agrawal and Laya Pothunuri, are also among the awardees.
“They are engineering sustainable skyscrapers, developing urban gardens, healing relationships between communities and the police, and developing tools to detect serious illnesses, as they demand a lead role in shaping our future,” said the foundation.
Brar, 17, strives to greatly reduce the disparity in access to quality healthcare and health education in the United States. He has founded Healthy Community – providing access to medical care, regardless of age, race, immigration status and socio-economic status. They organize free, mobile pop-up clinics in shelters and recovery centers, providing medical screenings, consultation and health education. By integrating health education into Healthy Community’s services, Brar hopes to improve patients’ long-term health and lifestyle.
Sixteen-year-old Chakravadhanula created a digital platform to connect health professionals with assistance from artificial intelligence with his friend, Ritvik, when he was 14. This led him to found the Medical Bridge Project – an initiative to strengthen and globalize the collaboration between doctors and AI to improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare. The Medical Bridge Project partners with medical schools and hospitals worldwide to implement their curriculum on using AI to improve care. They have educated doctors in nine countries and built partnerships with Microsoft Healthcare Intelligence, Microsoft 4Afrika and ASU+Mayo Clinic.
In November 2018, Acharya, 16, created Ocula – an affordable, accessible and efficient diabetes detection system that uses images of the eye. She has since created a version of Ocula that detects the specific level of diabetes, which provides a more accurate treatment plan. She also created Nereid in February 2019. Nereid is a cost-effective solution to detect bacteria contamination in water for early detection of waterborne disease, which can identify the specific types of bacteria. Both Ocula and Nereid have successfully completed preliminary trials.
During one of his trips to India in 2016, Deshmukh, now 17, learned that farmers had to spray their crops with a multitude of pesticides since they could not determine exact types of crop disease. So in 2017, he created PlantumAI, which uses artificial intelligence to solve three primary problems faced by farmers in resource-scarce areas: crop disease; overuse of pesticides; and unpredictable harvest schedules due to climate change. The mobile-based app uses photos taken on a farmer’s mobile phone to identify a crop disease and provide treatment options. It also advises on optimal harvesting techniques and connects farmers to local universities for support.
In 2019, PlantumAI received an Emergent Ventures Grant, which provided device support so farmers who could not afford smart phones could use PlantumAI. It has assisted more than 8,500 farmers in 23 Indian villages in protecting their harvests and reducing harm to the environment.
Ramachandran, now 16, created The Grey Water Project when she was 13 after visiting India and Tulare County in Calif., where she saw people struggling with water scarcity.
The project promotes the safe reuse of grey water – the relatively clean water waste from household appliances – and general water conservation through outreach, advocacy and educational curricula. The program has so far directly engaged 10,000 people worldwide.
In 2017, she was awarded the President’s Environmental Youth Award and invited to become a member of the United Nation’s Global Waste Water Initiative. Her research received a grand award at the 2019 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and she was named a Top 20 Global Finalist in the 2019 Google Science Fair. Ramachandran also received the 2019 Children’s Climate Prize, an international award given to one environmentalist each year.
We Are Family Foundation is a not-for-profit organization co-founded by legendary musician Nile Rodgers and is dedicated to creating programs that promote cultural diversity while nurturing and mentoring the vision, talents and ideas of young people who are positively changing the world.
Three Dot Dash is a global youth initiative of We Are Family Foundation, inspired by the late New York Times best-selling poet and peacemaker, 13-year-old Mattie J.T. Stepanek. It is a year-long social entrepreneur incubator and mentoring program designed to amplify the work of young people successfully addressing issues related to education, environment, food, health, safety, shelter, water and having a positive impact on global communities.