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.