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Jay Krishnan Gears Up for the Intel ISEF 2011

This blog was written by Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2010 and 2011 finalist, Jayanth Krishnan. Below, learn more about what he has to say about gearing up for this week’s events. 

The name is Jayanth (Jay) Krishnan, and I’m a senior from Mahopac, New York. In just four hours I will depart for my second run at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair, a program for Society for Science & the Public! Totally psyched!

Without an inkling of doubt, I can blatantly agree with my fellow repeating finalists that the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2010 was the coolest experience of our lives. In just one week, I was able to watch a panel of Nobel laureates, meet the cofounder of Google, meet the inventor of USB, tour Alcatraz, visit San Francisco, hang out with a ton of fellow finalists who were as crazy about science as I was, and even win a grand award!

I still remember the state of awe I was in when I first stepped into the ginormous convention center at San Jose. I was literally surrounded in a sea of novel research and finalists from all over the world. The first finalist I talked to was a sophomore from Ohio who had found a patented approach to recycle with 60% more efficiency as compared to current practices. Another finalist from Africa that I met during the pin trade told me that she was developing a walking stick with a built in Global Positioning System for the blind. When I told these finalists about my project which uses bioinformatics to predict drugs for cancer, they were genuinely interested as I was in their research. We may have spoken different languages, but we were all united by our similar passion for discovery which served as our form of communication. Each one of the 1,600 finalists was at this fair with the the sole mission to share their contribution to science with the world.

The most interesting thing about my fellow finalists is how they had developed their passion for science. We had all ended up at the same fair, but no two routes were the same. Some finalists who I had met came from prestigious research programs such as MIT’s Research Science Institute (RSI). Other finalists had come from the finest scientific research programs established by their respective schools.

My path was very different. My school did not have a science research program yet the idea of high school scientific research got me very curious. When my grandfather had passed away from prostate cancer, I felt that I had the obligation to get into cancer research as soon as I can. The fact that my school had cut our research program 10 years ago was not going to stop me. In my freshman year I e-mailed professors with my credentials requesting mentorship. Out of my several inquiries, I got one positive response for an interview from Dr. Darzynkiewicz, a professor from the New York Medical College. I passed my interview successfully and was able to witness cutting edge research in cancer cell biology. That very research project helped me grow as a scientist and allowed me to plan and implement my own bioinformatics based project at Mount Sinai the very next year which culminates in mapping the regulatory signature for 60 cancer cell lines and predicting drugs for each of the cancers.

With my research project under my belt, I had become a coauthor of a paper, a Systems Biology Center of New York fellow, a poster presenter at the prestigious annual Columbia University RECOMB and won several science fairs. However, my biggest accomplishment was to become an Intel International Science and Engineering Fair finalist as this accomplishment trigged my school into starting our own research program.

Through science research I have not only fulfilled the obligation I had when my grandfather passed away, but I have also found a career that I can really enjoy. The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair helped me reach heights that were beyond imaginable. As Robert Frost would say, I took the road not taken… and it made all the difference.

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