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Gitanjali Rao    

Inventor & 2017 Young Scientist Challenge Winner, Recipient of the United States Environmental Protection Agency President’s Environmental Youth Award

Gitanjali Rao is 15 years old and is a student at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Highlands Ranch, CO. She was named America’s Top Young Scientist of 2017 by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, with a patent pending device to detect lead in water faster than any other current techniques. She was selected as the National 2018 STEM Scout of the Year. Rao is the first ever recipient of Time Magazine's "Kid of the Year" award, which she received in 2020.

She was recognized as the youngest 2019 Forbes 30 under 30, for science and invention. She is also an EPA Presidential award winner and is recognized as a Gloria Barron 'Young Hero' Honoree for community impact.

Gitanjali has open-sourced her lead detector invention processor and app code for the community and it has been used for other applications. She is continuing to perform accuracy testing in Denver Water for the lead sensor.

Gitanjali is on the board of Directors for an organization called Children’s Kindness Network that spreads an anti-bullying message, and promotes the importance of kindness in all of us. She conducts workshops in elementary schools and hopes to educate children about kindness when they are still young. She conducts innovation workshops in schools around the world with a goal of incorporating innovation in our education and curriculum.

She is currently conducting research in University of Colorado, Denver in department of Cell Biology to find a solution for prescription opioid addiction using the latest in genetic engineering. This initiative received a recognition of a world finalist in a Technovation challenge and a top Health Pillar award by TCS Ignite Innovation challenge nationally. Gitanjali is also working on implementing a Cyberbullying app based on AI/Machine Learning in the community along with a team and they were awarded a grant of $5K from eCybermission (Army Educational Program).

She is a 4 time TEDx speaker apart from speaking in several girls' and global conference and being a UNICEF panelist about the role of Youth to power the planet.

Gitanjali has won awards for her writing in national and international contests. She published her first book at age of 9, called, “­Baby Brother Wonders.” The self-illustrated book, based on the story that won 2nd prize in the PBS national writing contest, described the world through her younger brother’s point of view. Gitanjali has also won first place in the International Aviation Art Contest for four years at the state level with her. She was a “TIME for Kids” Kid reporter for the 2017-2018 school year and wrote articles bringing awareness to Flint crisis.

Some of Gitanjali’s hobbies include playing the piano, Indian classical dancing and singing, swimming, fencing, and baking. She has been playing classical music for almost 8 years. She shares her talent of playing piano in local assisted living centers.

Gitanjali aspires to study genetics and computer science. She hopes to keep writing, discovering, and sharing her knowledge in the future.

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