Indian American Teens Among Top Winners at Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair

  • Krish Pai, 17, of Del Mar, California, received the second Regeneron Young Scientist Award; while Tanishka Balaji Aglave, 15, of Valrico, Florida was recipient of the H. Robert Horvitz Prize for Fundamental Research.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Society for Science announced that Krish Pai, 17, of Del Mar, California, received the second Regeneron Young Scientist Award in the 2024 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest pre-college science and engineering competition. The young Indian American received the $50,000 prize for his machine-learning research to identify microbial genetic sequences that can be modified to biodegrade plastic.

Krish Pai

His new software, called Microby, scans databases of microorganisms and determines which ones can be changed genetically to biodegradable plastics. In tests, he identified two microorganisms that can be genetically modified to degrade plastic at a cost he believes would be ten times less than traditional recycling.

The top winners were honored during two award ceremonies: the Special Awards on May 16 and the Grand Awards Ceremony on the morning of May 17. In total, over $9 million was awarded to the finalists based on their projects’ creativity, innovation and depth of scientific inquiry. The competition featured nearly 2,000 young scientists representing 49 U.S. states and nearly 70 countries, regions and territories across the world. 

Tanishka Balaji Aglave

Congratulations to the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair 2024 winners,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science and Executive Publisher of Science News. “I’m truly inspired by the ingenuity and determination shown by these remarkable students. Coming from around the world with diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines, these students have shown that it is possible to come together in unity to tackle some of the toughest challenges facing our world today, and I could not be prouder.” 

Other top winners included Tanishka Balaji Aglave, 15, of Valrico, Florida; and Ria Kamat, 17, of Hackensack, New Jersey. 

Ria Kamat

Aglave received the H. Robert Horvitz Prize for Fundamental Research of $10,000 for her investigation into a natural alternative treatment against citrus greening, a disease that threatens citrus farming in many parts of the world and is currently only treated with antibiotics. She injected the trunks of infected trees with an extract from the curry leaf tree and found through tests that this potential method could effectively and sustainably manage citrus greening disease. 

Kamat, a student at Bergen County Academies, received the Dudley R. Herschbach SIYSS Award, which provides finalists an all-expense paid trip to attend the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar during Nobel Week in Stockholm, Sweden. Her project examined the relationship between tumor-induced Osteoclastogenesis and Osteoprotegerin. 

In addition to the top award winners, several Indian Americans were among the 450 finalists who were recognized for their innovative research. “First Award” winners, who each received a $5,000 prize include 

Ayush Garg, Dublin, California; Divij Motwani, Palo Alto, California; Akash Ashish Pai, Portland, Oregon (Biomedical Engineering)

See Also

Akilan Sankaran, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Arjun Suresh Malpani and Siddharth Daniel D’costa, Portland, Oregon (Chemistry)

Nikhil Vemuri, Durham, North Carolina (Earth and Environmental Sciences) 

Harini Thiagarajan and Vishal Ranganath Yalla, Bothell, Washington (Physics and Astronomy)

Anant Khandelwal, Sritan Motati and Siddhant Sood, Alexandria, Virginia (Technology Enhances the Arts)

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