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Indian American students headline Intel science talent search

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Maya Varma, right, with fellow first-place winners Amol Punjabi of Marlborough, Mass., and Paige Brown of Bangor, Maine (Intel Science Talent Search)

Maya Varma, right, with fellow first-place winners Amol Punjabi of Marlborough, Mass., and Paige Brown of Bangor, Maine (Intel Science Talent Search)

WASHINGTON D.C. (Diya TV) — More than a handful of Indian-American students paced the table, including two of whom took home top spots in two separate categories, at the recent Intel Science Talent Search contest. A prestigious competition for young innovators, $1 million in prizes were handed out to the winners.

Indian-Americans Amol Punjabi and Maya Varma captured two of the three first-place awards — Punjabi for basic research and Varma for innovation. Paige Brown, of Maine, won the first place medal for the distinction of global good.

“They and the rest of the top winners of Intel STS 2016 are using science and technology to help address the problems they see in the world and will be at the forefront of creating the solutions we need for the future,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and alumna of the Science Talent Search.

Punjabi, 17, developed software that can assist drugmakers develop new therapies for cancer and disease. He also served as the lead author for a paper on nano particles published in ACS Nano, and co-authored another paper the related topic of nanoscale.

Varma, also just 17 years old, and from San Jose, turned $35 worth of miscellaneous electronics and free computer-aided design tools to create a low-cost, smartphone-based lung function analyzer that diagnoses lung disease as accurately as expensive devices currently used in medical laboratories. She was among 1,750 high school students who applied to be a part of the competition, which for the first time in its history saw female finalists outnumber the male finalists 21 to 19.

The field of second and third place of all three categories was dominated by Indian Americans as well.

Meena Jagadeesan, 17, took second place in the field of basic research, alongside Punjabi. Milind Jagota, 18, joined Varma in the innovation category, taking home the second place prize. Finally, Kunal Shroff, 17, rounded out the trifecta in the basic research category, taking home the third place medal.

First place paid prize money of $150,000; three second-place winners received $75,000 in prize money; and three third-place winners received $35,000. The winners were announced during a black-tie gala on Tuesday night at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C.

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Missing Hindu woman found mutilated in Pakistan

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The mutilated body of a Hindu woman was found in a field in southeastern Pakistan. Police say 40 year old Daya Bheel was murdered in the latest suspected attack against minorities in the Muslim-majority country. Authorities say they have arrested some suspects but have not determined a motive.

The Khosla family has donated nearly 2 million dollars to the Nudge Institute to help fight poverty. The philanthropists have donated millions of dollars for many other causes.

And disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-fried pleaded not guilty to eight different counts of wire fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy before a U.S. federal court in the Southern District of New York. U.S. prosecutors allege that under Bankman-Fried’s direction, FTX, once considered one of the largest and most-trusted cryptocurrency exchanges, transferred billions in customer assets to his trading firm, Alameda Research. If convicted of these charges, Bankman-Fried faces up to 115 years in prison.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Christmas crash kills Indian American toddler

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Tragic news out of Nevada. Authorities say an Indian American toddler has died in a devastating Christmas day car crash and his mother is in critical condition fighting for her life. Authorities say the accident happened on a busy Las Vegas boulevard and they were returning home from a trip in California.

Anil Beephan is now the first Indian American Republican ever to be elected to the New York State Assembly in Albany. So far only Indian American Democrats have been elected to the state legislature. Beephan will also become the first minority to represent Dutchess County and at 29 years old, he’s the youngest GOP rep in the state legislature. He’s currently in the tech industry and has also worked as a volunteer firefighter.

Vice President Kamala Harris has named Indian American Rajeev Badyal to a key national advisory group, responsible for strategy and recommendations to improve and maintain space policy. Badyal already works for Amazon, helping launch satellites into orbit. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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EXCLUSIVE: Warriors host first-ever Bhangra Night

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The Golden State Warriors first-ever Bhangra Night made its debut during the Warriors-Jazz game at the Chase Center in San Francisco. The Warriors say it’s a chance for the team to connect with the Bay Area’s rapidly growing South Asian community and fan base. Only Diya TV was on hand to capture the festivities. This change from the annual Bollywood night was supposed to take place in 2020 but was postponed because of the pandemic.

A federal jury in San Francisco has convicted Sivannarayana Barama of insider trading. Authorities say he used the quarterly financial performance of Palo Alto Networks before that information was released to the public and then traded in that company’s stock while that information was still confidential. Barama worked in IT for several Silicon Valley companies.

U.S. Border Patrol caught more than 4000 Indians illegally crossing the Mexico border in October and November. That’s more than double compared to the same time frame last year. An Indian man recently died climbing a border wall in Texas. The Biden administration is struggling to contain a surge of illegal immigration at the southern border.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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