Indrani Das, an Indian-American teenager, has just walked away with the top prize in one of the most prestigious science competitions in the world – the Regeneron Science Talent Search Competition. The 17-year-old girl, who hails from New Jersey, has in addition won $ 250,000 in prize money.
The competition, which is also dubbed the “Junior Nobel Prize,” is the oldest science competition in the world for students.
Overall 40 finalists were awarded grants worth $1.8 million and a total of five Indian-Americans made it to the top 10.
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Indrani was recognised by the committee comprising some of the top experts in the field of science and technology, for the work she had conducted on astrogliosis. It is a condition that occurs when astrocytes, which are a form of cells, start increasing in an abnormal rate due to certain form of injuries or trauma like infection, stroke etc. Excess of astrocytes leads to the destruction of neurons. Through her work, Indrani was able to demonstrate how the survival of neurons can be ensured in such cases.
The third place in the competition was also won by an Indian-American named Arjun Ramani. George D Yancopoulos, who is the president and the Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron, in a statement, noted the importance of such competitions in encouraging future scientific inquiry. He said, “My experience as a Science Talent Search winner led me to embark on a career in science, and I hope it will inspire these exceptional young scientists to become next generation of innovators that will improve the world and solve some of our most pressing challenges as society.”
The renowned competition generally finds about 1,700 students each year submitting their research study in hopes of being recognised with the top prize.