A pair of teen researchers from New Delhi took first place in the Animal Sciences category at the Intel Science and Education Fair for their simple cure to giardiasis, a huge contributor to children’s deaths in India. More than 1,700 Indian American and Indian researchers from around the world competed recently in the annual fair, which awards more than $5 million in prizes and scholarships to enterprising young students, which was held in Los Angeles this year. Several Indian American young technologists, as well as from India and Sri Lanka, showcased some of the most innovative projects of this year’s fair.

Amrit Sahu, 14, from Bhubhaneshwar, Odisha, created the novel “VOICE-O-NATOR,” which enables speech-impaired people with defects in the larynx, to speak.

Every sound or word has a corresponding tongue or lip movement,” explained Sahu. The “VOICE-O-NATOR” senses the tongue and lip movement and plays a recorded audio of the sound. A sensor placed on the lip plays the intended sound recording, enabling a speech-impaired person to speak, said the young technologist, who earned a fourth place award in the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering division at ISEF.

Another ingenious project — developed by Nipun Kavishka Silva, 15, from De Mazenod College in Sri Lanka — uses artificial intelligence to allow blind people to play video games with their tongues.

“Blindness forms a significant barrier to participate in physical activities including entertainment,” said Silva. “Current video game technology for the blind is relying on sound cues, but no sense of vision.”

“We are familiar with augmentation or substitute of one sense for another such as eyeglasses. This invention is using tongue sensor as touch sense to take in information normally intended for another sense called vision,” said Silva, who earned a fourth place award in the Computer Science division of the competition.

"Through the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, Intel aims to empower students to develop innovations that positively impact the way we work and live," said Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation.

"We hope the competition will not only shine a spotlight on the finalists' achievements, but also encourage more youth to embrace science, technology, engineering and math," she said.

GRAND PRIZE WINNERS

Daksh Dua, 16, and Abhishek Verma, 15, from the Maharaja Agarsain Public School in Delhi, were among the “grand winners,” and won the Intel Foundation Cultural and Scientific Visit to China Award. Dua and Verma showed that the extract from a common shrub — rubus ellipticus — was effective in treating giardiasis, one of India’s most prevalent killers of young children.

Giardia Intestinalis is a water-borne pathogen which causes diarrhea, a preventable illness which nonetheless kills more than 38 million children in India each year. Dua and Verma used root extract of the wild shrub rubus ellipticus to mitigate the effects of giardia. The pair won the “Best of Category” in the Animal Sciences division of ISEF — earning $5,000 — and also the “First Award” of $3,000. Their school’s lab will receive $1,000.

Harsha Sudarsan Uppili, 18, of Oregon Episcopal School in Portland, Oregon, won the Innovation Explorer Award from the California Institute of Technology. Uppili’s project, “The Fabrication and Characterization of Short and Long Term Memory Proton Induced Thin Film Synaptic Transistors,” aimed to improve short and long-term memory and repetitious learning by stimulating an artificial synapse in the brain. The young Indian American researcher said his project would vastly improve understanding of the intricate workings of the human brain.

The Innovation Explorer Award will offer Uppili a rare, behind-the-scene visit to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Uppili also won First Award in the Materials and Bioengineering division, earning a $3,000 prize.

Perry Alagappan, 17, of ClearLakeHigh School in Houston, Texas, was another grand prize winner, and received the Philip V. Streich Memorial Award for developing a methodology to remove toxic, heavy metals from drinking water supplies.

Many technologies have been developed, but most are ineffective against dangerous substances such as cadmium, cobalt, nickel, mercury and lead, said Alagappan, who has built a low-cost, renewable multi-walled carbon nanotube filter that can efficiently adsorb heavy metals from contaminated water.

The Philip V. Streich Memorial Award will allow Alagappan to participate in the London International Youth Science Forum, a two-week program held annually for 300 young scientists from more than 50 countries. Alagappan also received the best of category and first award in Environmental Sciences, earning two prizes worth $8,000.

SPECIAL AWARDS

Akanksh Chaudhary, 17, of Bancroft School, Worcester, Mass., shared the Acoustical Society of America’s 1st place award with classmate Marcello Ferrari, 18, for their research into the effects of noise pollution on fruit flies. The researchers concluded that the activities of D. melanogaster — a type of fruit fly – decreased and became erratic when exposed to long periods of noise in the prenatal stage. Chaudhary and Ferrari concluded that pregnant women should consider the effects of noise in their environments.

Shradda Rathod, 18, of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, in Durham, North Carolina, received the American Dental Association Foundation’s 2nd place award for discovering that nitric oxide could eradicate bacteria which causes gingivitis and other periodontal diseases. “Nitric oxide is an effective antimicrobial agent as it is difficult for bacterial strains to form a resistance against it, and therefore is applicable in eliminating these strains,” explained Rathod.

Karishma Sunil Patel, 15, of Grants High School, Grants, New Mexico, received the ADAF’s 3rd place award, for her study titled: “Killed by Sweetness.” Patel examined whether Xylitol, frequently found in mouth rinses, gums and toothpaste, is effective in preventing tooth decay.

Shreya Sundaresh Ramayya, 16, of Palos Verdes Peninsula, Rolling Hills Estates, California, received a 3rd place award from the American Chemical Society for creating a two-year research study which examines the role of fluorine in combatting malaria. Ramayya will also receive $15,000 for four years to attend the University of Sciences in Philadelphia.

Pia Sen, 17, of Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School, in Austin, Texas, also received the USP scholarship for addressing the issue of antibiotic resistance, which is becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the world.

Niranjan Balachandar, 17, of the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science in Denton, Texas, received the 4th place award from the ACS, for creating novel applications for Alzheimer’s disease research.

Namal Namal Udara Piyasiri, 18, of Tabuththegama Central College, Thambuththegama, Sri Lanka, received a 1st place award of $1,000 from the American Intellectual Property Law Association for a field construction machine to cut paddy — a rice field — and a novel way to cut water ways for wet cultivation of rice. Piyasiri also received a $10,000 “Development Focus” award from the U.S. Agency for International Development, along with his prize money from ISEF.

Anand Srinivasan, 17, of Roswell High School in Roswell, Georgia received common stock worth $3,000 from United Technologies Corporation for his research into tools for cancer diagnostics.

Raghu Vamsi Dhara, 18, of Mission San Jose High School in Fremont, Calif., also received UTC stock for looking into ways to achieving net-gain controlled nuclear fusion on earth, which would lead to a revolution in energy and transportation technologies. Dhara said his project suggests that a sono-magnetic hybrid fusion approach can readily yield gain in a way that can be harnessed for clean energy generation.

FIRST AWARDS - $3,000

Divya Koyyalagunta, 18, of Clear Lake High School in Houston, Texas, won a first award in the category of Behavioral and Social Sciences for examining the role of somatostatin interneurons in Alzheimer's disease. Memory impairment has been linked to the loss of somotostatin interneurons; Koyyalagunta’s project attempted to determine the connectivity between somatostatin interneurons and Alzheimer’s, to identify potential biomarkers for early disease diagnosis, and targets for therapeutic intervention.

Ria Chhabra, 17, of Plano Senior High School in Plano, Texas, won a first award in the Biochemistry division for discovering that simply washing inorganic produce reduces pesticide content to such a degree that the difference in health parameters, heavy metal and nutrient content between organic and washed conventional food becomes statistically insignificant. “This discovery has the potential to entirely change our food industry,” said Chhabra.

Ritesh Narayan Ragavender, 17, of South Brunswick High School, Monmouth Junction in New Jersey, won a first award in Mathematical Sciences for a project entitled: “Odd Dunkl Operators and nilHecke Algebras.”

Ragavender described his project: “We show that odd divided difference operators can be used to construct odd Dunkl operators, which we use to give a representation of a Lie group on the algebra of skew polynomials and evaluate the odd Dunkl Laplacian.”

Indians and Indian Americans received second, third and fourth awards in several categories, including:

ANIMAL SCIENCES

4th Award - $500

Supraja Chittari, 18, of GeorgeC. Marshall High School, Falls Church, Virginia, for: “Effect of Turmeric on Memory Curves of Planarians: An Investigation into Chemical Memory.”

Deeksha P. Hebbar, 14, of Vivekananda English Medium School in Puttur, Karnataka, for: “Cashew Tree (Anacardium occidentale): An Effective Treatment for Cattle Dermatitis.”

BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES

3rd Award

Soham Daga, 17, of Stuyvesant High School, Manhattan, New York, for: “Using Google Trends to Enhance Predictive Models of Mortgage Delinquency to Mitigate Risk in the Loan Lending Process.”

Zarin Ibnat Rahman, 17, of Brookings High School, Brookings, South Dakota, for: “Self-induced Sleep Loss: A Novel Risk Factor for Nighttime Food Desire in Adolescents and the Association with Brain Dopamine Signaling and Obesity.”

BIOCHEMISTRY

2nd Award - $1,500

Sriram Somasundaram,16, of The Harker School in San Jose, Calif.: “Novel Design and Evaluation of Chitosan Nanoparticle Ocular Drug Delivery System.”

Nikhil Murthy, 14, of Catlin Gabel School, Portland, Oregon: “Novel Synthesis and Characterization of Antimony and Lithium Doped Tin Dioxide Nanocrystals Achieving Record Gas Sensor Performance.”

3rd Award - $1,000

Priyanka R. Narayan, 18, of Wayzata High School, Plymouth, Minnesota: “Understanding the Mechanism behind Nanoparticle Enhanced Oral Absorption of Chemotherapeutic Drugs.”

4th Award - $500

Srinath Vijay Seshadri, 14, of Village Academy, Delaware, Ohio: “Ethanol Production through Biological Pretreatment of Miscanthus sinensis using Pleurotus ostreatus.”

CELLULAR AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY

3rd Award - $1,000

Reesab Pathak, 16, of Camas High School, Camas, Washington: “Universal, MHC-E Restricted Killer T Cell Responses: Identification of a Novel Immune Response against HIV.”

Meghal Sheth, 16, of Camas High School, Camas, Washington: “Does BPA Cause Hearing Loss? Assessing the Potential Ototoxicity Induced by Bisphenol- A in Danio rerio (Zebrafish) Lateral Line.”

Akshayaa Kethinni Chittibabu, 16, of Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science at WPI, Worcester, Massachusetts: “The Hidden Hazard of Infant Formula: Evaluating the Effect of Food Additive Carrageenan on Blastemal Cell Growth and Development in a Dugesia tigrina Model.”

4th Award - $500

Ritayan Chakraborty, 16, of Syosset High School, Syosset, New York: “Activation-induced Cytidine Deaminase and its Role in Reliving the Promethean Dream.”

Morni A. Modi, 17, of Caddo Parish Magnet High School, Shreveport, Louisiana: “VEGF-3 Antibody Functionalized Gold Nanoshells for Near Infrared Photothermal Ablation of Lymphatic Endothelial Cells.”

Manotri Chaubal, 17, of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia: “Reprogramming Hair Follicle Stem Cells into Cardiomyocytes.”

CHEMISTRY

2nd Award - $1,500

Nikhil Murthy, 14, of Catlin Gabel School, Portland, Oregon: “Novel Synthesis and Characterization of Antimony and Lithium Doped Tin Dioxide Nanocrystals Achieving Record Gas Sensor Performance.”

4th Award - $500

Shreya Sundaresh Ramayya, 16, of Palos Verdes Peninsula, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.: “Building a Library of Difluoro- and Trifluoro- Artemisinins, Year Two.”           

Shreya Nandy, 16, and Kopal Gupta, 16, of Amity International School, Mayur Vihar, New Delhi, India: “A Unique Kit for Detection and Removal of Pesticides from Fruits and Vegetables.”

COMPUTER SCIENCE

2nd Award - $1,500

Roma Vivek Pradhan, 17, of Friendswood High School, Friendswood, Texas: “Train the Artificial Brain II: Computer-Aided Diagnosis and Treatment Plan of Alzheimer's Disease using Neural Networks.”

Parth Chopra, 17, of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia: “A Novel Computational Agent-Based Model for the Outbreak, Spread, and Containment of Tuberculosis.”

3rd Award - $1,000

Venkatesh S. Sivaraman, 16, of Caddo Parish Magnet High School, Shreveport, Louisiana: “SNAP: A Novel Algorithm for Fast Global Sequence Alignment and Database Search.”

Dhaivat Nitin Pandya, 16, of Appleton North High School, Appleton, Wisconsin: “Panthera: Caching and Cache-based Scheduling in Distributed Computing Systems.”

Kalyani Ramadurgam, 15, of Torrey Pines High School, San Diego, Calif.: “High Dimensional Clustering Algorithms Applied to Face Recognition of Obscured Faces.”

Shrey Gupta, 17, BASIS Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona. “A Novel Approach to Genetic Interaction Research with an Integrated Repository of Gene Regulatory Networks.”

Sanjay Kannan, 17, Elish Mahajan, 18, Andrew Zhou, 18, of Raleigh Charter High School, Raleigh, North Carolina: “Trailblazer: Cooperative, Infrastructure-Independent Generation of Indoor Floor Maps using Handheld Android Mobile Devices.”

4th Award - $500

Nipul Kavishka Silva, 15, De Mazenod College, Kandana, Sri Lanka: “Artificial Intelligence Sense for the Blind to Play Video Games using Their Tongue.”

Vinay K. Sriram, 18, of Poolesville High School, Poolesville, Maryland: “Design and Performance Analysis of Optimization Algorithms for Efficient Cryptographic Processing in Secure Internet Routing Protocol.”

Animesh Tripathi, 17, Sanskriti School, New Delhi, India: “Optimizing Digital Content for Color-Blind Audiences Using Enhancement Algorithms.”

ELECTRICAL AND MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

2nd Award      

Namal Udara Piyasiri, 18, Tabuththegama Central College, Thambuththegama, Sri Lanka: “Versatile Field Construction Machine for Paddy Cultivation.”

Anika Raghuvanshi, 17, of Jesuit High School, Portland, Oregon: “Generalized Decision Functions for Synthesis of Multi-level Logic Circuits Realized by Memristor Imply Gates.”

3rd Award

Puneeth Naga Sai Krishna Meruva, 16, of Homestead High School, Fort Wayne, Indiana: “An Integrated Software Platform for Intelligent, Autonomous Control of Hyper-Redundant Modular Robotic Systems using Simultaneous Localization and Mapping.”

Nimit Rajesh Gandhi, 16, of Little Rock Central High School, Little Rock, Arkansas: “Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes/Silicon Based Solar Cells.”

4th Award

Amrit Sahu, 14, Dav Public School, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India: “VOICE-O-NATOR: An Aid for the Speech Impaired.”

ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT

3rd Award

Vishal Reddy Nallanagulagari, 16, of Upper Arlington High School, Upper Arlington, Ohio: “Waste Drinks to Biofuel: Using Glucose and Fructose in Fermentation and Anaerobic Digestion for the Production of Ethanol and Methane.”

Rohan Mathew, 17, of Mills E. Godwin High School, Richmond, Virginia: “Cadmium Ion Removal from an Aqueous Solution by Dried Water Hyacinth Biomass-Kinetic Studies: Effect Of pH, Time, Hyacinth Dosage, and Cadmium Concentration on Adsorption.”

4th Award - $500

Sahil Veeramoney, 14, of Oregon Episcopal School, Portland, Oregon: “The Efficiency of Ferromagnetic Nanoparticles and Chlorella Algae in the Remediation of Oil Spills.”

MATERIALS AND BIOENGINEERING

2nd Award - $1,500

Advaith Anand, 17, of Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School, Austin, Texas: “Optimizing Natural Gas Separation and the Haber-Bosch Process with Thermally Rearranged Polymers: Effects of Morphology and Chemical Structure on Free Volume and Transport Properties of HAB-6FDA Structures.”

Mika Sarkin Jain, 16, of Stuyvesant High School, Manhattan, New York: “Regulating Podocyte Redifferentiation Using Mechanical and Geometrical Constrains.”

Madhan Subheeswar, 15, Matthew Carmel Raj, 14, Richard Nipun Gunasena, 15, of DuPont Manual High School, Louisville, Kentucky: “Optimization of Lithium-Sulfur Battery Cathode: Role of Sulfur-Carbon Interaction.”

ENERGY AND TRANSPORTATION

3rd Award - $1,000

Swetha Vanathy Shutthanandan, 16, of Richland High School, Richland, Washington: “Next Generation Supercapacitor for Ultra-Fast Energy Harvesting.”

4th Award - $500

Mokshin Suri, 17, of Plano West Senior High School, Plano, Texas: “Dye Sensitized Solar Cells: New Structures and Components for Greater Efficiency.”

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

2nd Award - $1,500

Sanjana J. Rane, 16, of duPont Manual High School, Louisville, Kentucky: “Effects of the Environmental Pollutant Acrylic Aldehyde on Renal Fibrosis.”

4th Award - $500

Varsha Venkatesh, 18, of Jericho Senior High School, Jericho, New York: “Investigating the Use of Plant Xylem from Angiosperm Wood Species as Organic Water Filters.”

Hans Christian Pande, 17, of Woods Cross High School, Woods Cross, Utah: “Sustainable Water Purification System with UV Irradiation.”

Davarshi Nikhil Patel, 17, of Red River High School, Grand Forks, North Dakota: “The Selenoproteome Influences Vulnerability to Environmental Methylmercury: The Potential Perspectives in Relation to Human Diseases.”

MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES

3rd Award - $1,000

Rishi Suvir Mirchandani, 17, of Fox Chapel Area Senior High School, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: “The Impact of Demand Elasticity on the Downs-Thomson and Braess Paradoxes.”

4th Award - $500

Shreya Mathur, 17, of Oxford High School, Oxford, Mississippi: “Identification of the Impact of Obesity Treatments on Gene Expression using a Novel Statistical Test.”

Niranjan Balachandar, 17, of Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Denton, Texas: “A Monte Carlo Protein Folding Simulation using Energy Optimization with Novel Applications to Alzheimer's Disease Research.”

Prem Murali Talwai, 16, of Mira Loma High School, Sacramento, California: “An Investigation of the p53 Ubiquitin-Proteasome System Using a Novel Non-Steady-State Enzyme Kinetic Model.”

Nitya Mani, 16, of The Harker School, San Jose, Calif.: “Characterizing the n-Division Points of Genus-0 Curves through Straightedge and Compass Constructions.”

Krishan Shashi Kumar, 18, of Terre Haute South Vigo High School, Terre Haute, Indiana: “Explaining the Map and the Matrix of the Discrete Lambert Exponentiation.”

MEDICINE AND HEALTH SCIENCES

2nd Award - $1,500

Ahneesh Jayant Mohanty, 17, of Plano Senior High School, Plano, Texas: “The Use of MnSOD in Combined Modality Therapy to Sensitize Lung Cancer Cells to Ionizing Radiation and Chemotherapy.”

Meenakshi Bose, 16, of Eastside High School, Gainesville, Florida: “Nicotine and Genistein as Novel Therapeutic Agents for Alzheimer's Disease.”

3rd Award - $1,000

Kanav Gupta, 16, of Jericho Senior High School, Jericho, New York: “Quizartinib (AC220) Reverses ABCB1- and ABCG2-Mediated Multidrug Resistance.”

Sujay Nagaraj, 17, Western Canada High School, Calgary, Canada: “Treating GBM BTSCs through Growth Factor Stimulation and Drug-Polymer Conjugate Therapy.”

Karan Desai, 17, of Edgemont High School, Scarsdale, New York: “Loss of TDP43 in Motor Neurons Leads to Deficits in Axonal RNAs in an Animal Model of ALS.”

Surabhi Gopal Mundada, 14, of Olympia High School, Olympia, Wash.: “Evolution of Developing an Alternative Treatment for Candida albicans using Natural Plant Extracts.”

Ashwath Kumar, 18, of David H. Hickman High School, Columbia, Missouri: “Effect of Bacterial Quorum Sensing Molecule N-3-oxo-Dodecanoyl-L-Homoserine Lactone on Human Pancreatic Carcinoma Cells.”

Vaishnavi Shrivastava, 17, of Mission San Jose High School, Fremont, Calif.: “Progressing Targeted Cancer Therapy and Diagnosis: Analyzing the Role of MiRNA Target Interactions and Expression Signatures for Glioblastoma Progression.”

Milan Satch Gambhir, 15, of Bellarmine College Preparatory, San Jose, Calif.: “A Wearable Ultrasonic Device for the Early Detection of Tumor Recurrence.”

Amit Scheer, 15, Colonel By Secondary School, Ottawa, Canada. “Personalized Medicine: A Novel Quantum Dot Bioconjugate Targeted Cancer Therapy.”

Dhruba Biswas, 17, of Mira Loma High School, Sacramento, Calif.: “Hepatocyte Differentiation of hESC Cultured Under Xeno-Free and Feeder-Free Conditions.”

MICROBIOLOGY

2nd Award - $1,500

Swapnav Deka, 17, of Plano East Senior High School, Plano, Texas: “What’s on the Menu: Identification of the Hydrocarbon Transport Systems as a First Step in Marine Oil-Degradation by Alcanivorax borkumensis.”

3rd Award- $1,000

Ruchir Rastogi, 16, of Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School, Montgomery, Alabama: “Determining Antimicrobial and Synergistic Properties of Silver Coated Carbon Nanotubes and Antimicrobial Peptides against Streptococcus pyogenes.”

4th Award - $500

Aparna Sai Ajjarapu, 17, of Ames High School, Ames, Iowa: “Isolation of Escherichia coli O157 Proteins that Interact with the Bovine Recto-anal Junction Squamous Epithelial (RSE) Cells.”

Archana Meera Varman, 16, of Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, Omaha, Nebraska: “Creation of a CTX-M-14/CTX-M-15 Gene Fusion to Determine if an Intrinsic Structural Feature of CTX-M-15 Causes Upregulation of Its Expression.”

Varsha Jayasankar, 17, Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, St. Catharines, Canada. “Identification of Novel Broad-Spectrum Antimicrobial Compounds in Curcuma amada.”

PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY

2nd Award - $1,500

Vipul Nandigala, 16, of Walled Lake Western, Walled Lake, Michigan: “An Application of Dean's Flow in Spiral Micro Channels for Particle Isolation.”

Namrata Ramya Balasingam, 16, of Archbishop Mitty High School, San Jose, Calif.: “A Kinetic Monte Carlo Study of the Scalability and Variability of the Forming Voltage of Transition Metal Oxide ReRAMs.”

3rd Award - $1,000

Kavita Anjali Selva, 14, of Clear Lake High School, Houston, Texas: “Trapped Field Superconducting Magnets.”

PLANT SCIENCES

2nd Award - $1,500

Saumya R. Keremane, 17, of Martin Luther King High School, Riverside, Calif.: “An Eco-friendly RNA Interference-based Insect Control for Management of Citrus Greening Disease using a Model System.”

4th Award - $500

Jaya Sagar, 16, Government Senior Secondary School- Manali, Manali, India. “Brassica juncea (Mustard) Flowers to Attract Pollinators for Better Malus domestica (Apple) Yield.”

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