Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure to get to know a rising youth scientist named Rohan. Rohan was born in India and moved to the US in 2005 which taught him the importance of hard work. He has intense passions in computers, chemistry, math, robots and space. Rohan has developed his passions by starting two clubs: a programming club called Hackers for Harambe and an entrepreneurship club called Launch X; Founded and became the CEO of GrowCo, an environmental artificial intelligence startup; and being the technical captain of S.P.A.M., a First Robotics Team. He also loves music and flying (he learned to fly before he learned to drive!).
After high school, he’d like to study Chemical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science at CalTech or MIT! Once he finishes college, he hopes to be a chemical engineer on Mars.
Rohan was an Intel ISEF participant for his state last year with his project for ridding water of toxic blue-green algae but he did not quality this year with a project on deactivating and oxidizing ethinylestradiol in water. He will, however, be presenting his project at the National Stockholm Water Prize competition and GENIUS Olympiad.
His project was focused on removing active pharmaceuticals from water with a focus on ethninylestradiol, an artificial hormone that can disrupt sea creatures’ endocrine systems with effects like changing fishes’ sex. He began this project after realizing that when people take medication and then use the restroom that the pharmaceuticals don’t get broken down and can end up in our sewers, groundwater, and drinking water. After more research, he found out that any attempts to remove the chemicals didn’t fully remove them and made the problem worse. Some other solutions included using more chemicals to remove the existing chemicals or using systems that removed other chemicals but only broke down ethinylestradiol into smaller compounds without removing it entirely. His solution is using electro-oxidation to deactivate 99.8% of ethinylestradiol, effectively eliminating a vast majority of the pharmaceutical and therefore help in making water safer.
Rohan has been active in science and science competitions since 4th grade and has made it to states for science fair since the 6th. Quite a few of his projects have concerned water. He has studied the effects of hard water on red bean germination, evaluated the effectiveness of injecting air bubbles into water as a chemical fertilizer alternative, evaluated the performance of electro-oxidation to soften water, and was able to destroy toxic blue-green algae using salt water and electricity. Because of his extensive experience, he has plenty of advice for other youth scientists.
“The most influential thing I have learned through research is that hard work never goes wasted. I realized that the more work I put in, the more success will come to me. “ he says when asked about how he handles not placing in competitions. Rohan is a firm believer that competitions shouldn’t be just about placing but fostering growth, meeting inspirational people, and finding opportunities. Through Intel ISEF, he was invited to start the Launch X club at his school, an opportunity he might not have gotten otherwise!
For researchers and scientists, his big piece of advice is this: “do not chase success, rather seek excellence. This means that seek out to learn something new and to become excellent in that subject, and success will come to you automatically.”
Getting to know Rohan has been a fantastic experience. If you’d like to get in touch with Rohan and ask him questions related to his projects, ask for his advice, or would just like to chat, he has provided a few social media links!
Facebook: Rohan Jakhete