Gitanjali Rao: Meet TIME Magazine’s Kid of the Year

Image Source: TIME Magazine

15-year old scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao has been named the winner of the inaugural TIME Kid of the Year for her “astonishing work using technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying.”

Residing in Denver, Colorado, Gitanjali was selected out of more than 5,000 nominees and was interviewed by the Academy Award–winning actor and special envoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie on a video call.

Gitanjali has created an app and a Chrome extension called Kindly that detects cyber-bullying at an early stage using artificial intelligence. Apart from this, her keen interest in the field of genetics is making her work on a product that would help in identifying prescription-­opioid addiction at an early stage based on protein production of the mu opioid receptor gene.

She is also working on an effective and inexpensive solution to help people in third-world countries detect bio-contaminants in their water.

But that is not all. Gitanjali also conducts ‘innovation sessions,’ whereby she uses the process of ‘observe, brainstorm, research, build, communicate’ to inspire others to innovate.

“The students that I work with, they just don’t know where to start. I think that if you give them that spark that they can then build off of, then that changes everything. That means one more person in this world wants to come up with ideas to solve problems,” she said about the innovation workshops.

“My goal has really shifted not only from creating my own devices to solve the world’s problems, but inspiring others to do the same as well. Because, from personal experience, it’s not easy when you don’t see anyone else like you. So I really want to put out that message: If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it,” she added.

She now partners with rural schools, girls in STEM organizations, museums all across the world, and bigger organizations like Shanghai International Youth Science and Technology group and the Royal Academy of Engineering in London to run these innovation workshops.

And recently, she hit the milestone of mentoring 30,000 students from across the world!

“I really hope the work that all of these kids are doing identifies innovation as a necessity and not something that’s a choice anymore. I hope I can be a small part of that,” she added.

When asked whether she does things that kids her age do, she said, “Actually I spend more time doing 15-year-old things during the quarantine. I bake an ungodly amount. It’s not good, but it’s baking. And, like, it’s science too.”

Isn’t this a fantastic amount of work that this 15-year-old is doing? Let us know what you think of Gitanjali’s work in the comments section below.

Also, if you’d like to read the entire interview of Gitanjali, click here.

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