Dec 07, 2020

Gitanjali Rao Named Time’s "Kid of the Year"

A 15-year-old Colorado high school student and young scientist has used AI and created apps to take on contaminated drinking water.

water quality

Time Magazine has named Lone Tree, Colorado’s Gitanjali Rao first ever “Kid of the Year.”

A 15-year-old Colorado high school student and young scientist, Rao has used artificial intelligence and created apps to tackle contaminated drinking water.

Even more, Rao has focused efforts on cyberbullying, opioid addiction and other social issues, reported AP News.

Rao is a sophomore at STEM School Highlands Ranch and was selected from more than 5,000 nominees, reported Time Magazine

According to what Rao told AP News in a Zoom interview, the prize is “nothing that I could have ever imagined. And I’m so grateful and just so excited that we’re really taking a look at the upcoming generation and our generation, since the future is in our hands.”

In her Zoom interview with Time Magazine's contributing editor and actress Angelina Jolie, Rao told Jolie that her interest in science started early as a way to improve social conditions. More specifically, the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, inspired her work to develop a way to detect contaminants and send those results to a cell phone. 

“I was like 10 when I told my parents that I wanted to research carbon nanotube sensor technology at the Denver Water quality research lab, and my mom was like, ‘A what?’ It was just that changing factor of, you know this work is going to be in our generation’s hands pretty soon. So if no one else is gonna do it, I’m gonna do it,” said Rao.

Rao is currently working on an easy, inexpensive way to help detect bio-contaminants in water. 

Time has presented a “Person of the Year” for the past 92 years. Last year and the youngest ever to grace this title was Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

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