- Saathvik Kannan is just a rising senior at High School when he won a $50,000 international science prize.
Seventeen-year-old Indian American Saathvik Kannan received one of two Regeneron Young Scientist Awards of $50,000 at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair.
“Regeneron and Society for Science presents $50,000 to two First Place projects. These finalists are selected for their commitment to innovation in tackling challenging scientific questions, using authentic research practices and creating solutions to the problems of tomorrow,” according to Regeneron ISEF mission statement.
The rising senior at Hickman High School in Columbia, MO, presented a project that used bio-computational models to understand the causes of heightened infectivity of the disease mpox, also called monkeypox, after it reemerged in 2022, Columbia Daily Tribune reported.
“I was overjoyed and incredibly excited!” Saathvik wrote in an email to the Tribute about the prize. “I felt that it reflected our work with Dr. Singh’s mentorship and guidance over the last few years culminating in my project from this year.”
Kannan credited his mentor, Kamlendra Singh, an assistant professor of veterinary pathobiology at the University of Missouri. “He was like any of my teachers at school, teaching me every little bit in biology or areas where I was unsure,” Saathvik wrote. “’Thanks’ is simply not enough,” he added.
His project, undertaken during the height of the outbreak, didn’t predict its quick fade, but it wasn’t meant to, Roger McKinney quoted Kannan from his email.
The approach he used is called Bioplex and uses machine learning and three-dimensional protein modeling to decode structures enabling the virus to replicate, the report said.
“The research provides a basis for understanding several new outbreaks,” Saathvik wrote. “As we have realized with COVID-19 and even mpox, any virus can go from dormancy to a full resurgence in a very short period. So, there is potential for another outbreak of mpox, where this research could be used.”
His research can help to better understand viruses like mpox, Saathvik wrote.