#GirlsinScience – Meet Inspiring Girls in STEM—Saviours of the Environment, Humankind & Our Future – Railway Children India

#GirlsinScience – Meet Inspiring Girls in STEM—Saviours of the Environment, Humankind & Our Future

Illustration – Unknown

Scientists have always held a respectable position in society, especially post the pandemic, with their unmatched efforts resulting in lifesaving vaccines. Yet, there is something worth noting on the occasion of the 8th International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, this day is observed to promote equal access and participation of young girls and women in science. As per the UN, a mere 33% of researchers are women; only 28% of engineering graduates are women; in specialized fields such as artificial intelligence, only 1 in 5 professionals is a female. These statistics point to a grim situation that aches to improve with participation of young girls in STEM.

Globally, however, numerous girls are leaving a mark with their ingenuity. Below listed are 5 such geniuses, including a trailblazing group of girls, who merit a mention on the special event of International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

1. Anika Chebrolu

When the world was grappling with the pandemic, then-14-year-old Anika stood out as an example of innovation and scientific mind set—the keys in solving global issues. Based in Frisco, Texas this Indian-American won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge with her discovery of a potential therapy for Covid-19. Interestingly, it was a few years before the virus reared its ugly head that Anika began researching about viruses and drug discovery, with a keen interest in finding a compound that could bind to the protein of the influenza virus.

Apart from collaborating with scientists and researchers, Anika took to social media in the peak of the pandemic to bust myths around the virus, contributing to the discourse. This talented teen is also a trained Bharatanatyam performer!

2. Caroline Crouchley

Elon Musk is regarded as a technological wizard, having backed fantastic innovations in automobiles. He may never have thought in his wildest dreams of a teenager coming close to his genius, but Caroline had other plans!

All of thirteen, Caroline Crouchley submitted an amazing entry for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, which may not have bagged her the top prize, but made her a force to reckon with. She proposed an economical and safer alternative to Musk’s Hyperloop. Her train relied entirely on renewable energy. With the intent of reducing emission from automobiles on the road, Ms. Crouchley developed a design that requires neither a diesel engine nor an electric motor, making it one of the most eco-friendly modes of mass transport.

3. Geetanjali Rao

TIME magazine’s first-ever Kid of the Year, Geetanjali Rao needs barely any introduction. The firebrand teenager has worked on myriad issues ranging from finding solutions to treat contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction, all before she even turned sixteen! Boasting numerous accolades and global recognition as a veritable genius, Ms. Rao first encountered the thrill of solving a problem when she invented a device to detect lead contamination in drinking water.

This celebrated teen scientist intends to build a strong community of aspiring scientists who can come together to work on technological developments to solve global issues. Her book “A Young Innovator’s Guide to STEM” elaborates on the steps to identifying problems and developing solutions, thereby leading to positive impact on the world.

4. Kiara Nirghin

At the age of sixteen, Kiara Nirghin sought out to combat the global issue of drought and went on to win the Google Science Fair and the Community Impact Award. One look at her sister changing her toddler’s diaper, Ms. Nirghin had her eureka moment, setting her on the road to extensive research about superabsorbent polymers and their potential of retaining liquid—all with a vision of revolutionizing water conservation in her drought-stricken country of South Africa.

Her research has resulted in the development of an inexpensive, chemical-free, biodegradable superabsorbent brimming with the potential of improving the environment and increasing food security. Deservedly, Kiara Nirghin and her unmatched efforts have been captured and celebrated across global publications, garnering her a tsunami of accolades and awards.

5. The Afghan Girls Robotics Team aka Afghan Dreamers

Necessity is the mother of invention. This proverb found a completely new meaning during the pandemic. In the West, it gave an opportunity to Anika’s years of research to bear fruit, while in the East, it pushed a group of teenage Afghan girls to design an affordable ventilator at a call to action initiated by the then-governor of Herat.

They went on build an emergency ventilator prototype based on the low-cost, low-tech ventilator design called the MIT E-Vent. The journey of building this prototype was riddled with barriers, such as lack of resources and space.

“We didn’t have access to a lot of resources and materials that we needed to build a ventilator, so we had to build the prototype out of spare parts from old Toyota Corollas.” These words of Somaya Faruqi, the leader of the group, highlights the limitations only making the innovation more triumphant.

While the innovation and design led to saving the lives of Herat’s growing number of Covid victims, it also highlights the importance of education for girls not only for their personal growth but for their motherland as well.

The group comprises teenage girls Somaya Faruqi, Dyana Wahbzadeh, Folernace Poya, Ellaham Mansori, and Nahid Rahimi.

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