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Five questions with ISEF 2019 Best of Category in Environmental Engineering winner, Adyant Shankar

By Justin Cohen

Adyant stands in front of his project board PHOTO COURTESY OF SOCIETY FOR SCIENCE & THE PUBLIC/CHRIS AYERS

This post is part of a series profiling the top 22 Best of Category award winners of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2019. Intel ISEF is the largest pre-college, international STEM competition in the world. This year’s competition included participants from 80 countries, regions and territories. Every year, the brightest young scientists from all over the world come together to participate in this incredible fair.

Adyant Shankar of Nashua, New Hampshire, was the top winner in the category of environmental engineering at ISEF 2019. Adyant chemically modified titanium dioxide, a naturally-occurring mineral powder found in the Earth’s crust, with the goal of improving the efficiency of standard air purification devices. Adyant’s project aims to enhance the efficiency of both indoor and outdoor air filters, while also making them affordable and easy to produce. His device holds the potential to drastically improve the quality of life in countries such as China, where the heavy smog necessitates the use of masks.

Here is our conversation with Adyant.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned thus far in your scientific career?

To never give up and be determined. While conducting my research, I stumbled upon many setbacks. I persisted until I achieved results. If I had given up on my project, I never would have made it to ISEF, where I experienced so many wonderful moments and made wonderful memories.

Adyant on his way to accept his best of category in environmental engineering award
Adyant on his way to accept his best of category in environmental engineering award

What was your experience like at Intel ISEF?

In a word: amazing. I met many talented people who shared my passions and research goals and learned new things by talking to fellow competitors and students from other countries.

What issues do you feel all countries should unite to take on?

Issues concerning the safety of our citizens. There is too much violence and hatred in this world against various groups. Countries must come together to realize that hatred and destruction can never be a solution if we want a peaceful world to exist.

How do you unwind when you’re not doing research?

I play the piano or read news covering the latest in technology—especially in the field of medicine. I am extremely interested in technology and strongly believe in its ability to solve medical issues such as cancer, a disease plaguing the world today.

What is something you don’t currently understand that you wish you understood?

I wish I understood the truth of how the Earth was created and whether there is life beyond Earth. While it is amazing that we are the only known living creatures in our solar system, I wish I knew whether there is life in the 100 billion other galaxies in the universe.