During finals week of the Regeneron Science Talent Search, 40 of the brightest, young scientific minds in the nation travelled to Washington D.C. to showcase their scientific projects to the public. We asked the top 10 winners a variety of questions to learn more about their projects, competition experience and plans for the future. Here is some of what top winner Eshika Saxena, 17, a high school senior from Bellevue, Washington who has made appearances on outlets such as CNBC 18, The American Bazaar and Crosscut, had to say.
Which sci-fi advancement are you upset we don’t have by now?
I am upset that we don’t have flying cars yet. Compared to the pace of innovation in hardware and software fields, the personal transportation industry has lagged behind. Traffic jams, overcrowded public transit and crumbling infrastructure are some of the biggest challenges faced by metros worldwide. Although we are spending billions developing self-driving cars, fully automated cars are still years away. We are continually investing in infrastructure for improving public transit but are unable to meet the ever-increasing demand. All of this could be solved if cars could fly. “Autopilot” would become a reality instantly, and cities could accommodate multi-modal transportation options. I’m disappointed that we all don’t have a Jetsons-style flying car in our garages.
Which scientist – alive or deceased – would you want to solve scientific mysteries with and why?
I’d love to work with Marie Curie – two time Nobel Prize winner and the only woman at the iconic 1927 Solvay Conference that discussed scientific ideas with luminaries like Einstein, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Pauli, Bohr, Planck and many others! As an accomplished woman scientist, she is an inspiration to all.
What would you invent if you had all the money in the world?
I would invent solutions that make telemedicine a reality to deliver advanced healthcare freely across borders and improve the overall quality of life. Currently, we have to make trips to the hospital to get basic tests conducted and then have the doctor analyze the test results to diagnose and treat problems. With advances in sensor technologies, artificial intelligence and high-speed connectivity, people should be able to get timely health screening or monitoring from the comfort of their homes, reducing unnecessary pain and suffering.
What would you like to be most renowned for?
Using the magic of technology to solve problems we face in everyday life.
What would you say in order to inspire the next generation of scientists?
I’ve been inspired by Confucius’ quote: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” The formula is simple: work diligently to understand the fundamentals, then make new connections to develop innovative solutions. Think big, think different, and most importantly, don’t give up! In science, persistence is key.