The coronavirus requires scientists from around the world to come together. That includes this young teenage girl from Frisco, Texas! She recently won a massive $25,000 prize after helping research a cure to this deadly disease. Even more surprising, the teen scientist plans on donating most of her prize money! Read on to discover one of the most heartwarming stories of 2020…
A Teen Scientist
When Anika Chebrolu, a 14-year-old scientist, heard about the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, a middle-school-aged science competition, she knew she needed to participate. Of course, she simply hopes that her work will save lives one day. Chebrolu is not in it for the money. Plus, she never expected to win. But the teenager did! “Anika used in-silico methodology for drug discovery to find a molecule that can selectively bind to the Spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in an attempt to find a cure for the COVID-19 pandemic,” 3M Young Scientist Lab stated on their website.
Interestingly, Chebrolu actually started her research two years ago, focusing on the common flu. However, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, the teen scientist knew she needed to pivot. “With the help of my mentor Dr. Mahfuza Ali, I switched topics and targeted the SARS-CoV-2 virus because of the immense impact it’s made in the world in less than a year,” Chebrolu said. Meanwhile, her mentor, Dr. Ali, could not feel more proud of his student. “Being a scientist, I know what it takes to work on a scientific project, and beyond her age, that work Anika did is amazing,” Dr. Ali stated. “Her enthusiasm, her tenacity, it was amazing.”
Winning the 3M Young Scientist Challenge also comes with one incredible prize: $25,000 in prize money! And Chebrolu already knows what she wants to do with her hard-earned cash!
14-Year-Old Heart of Gold
The amazing teen she is, Chebrolu plans on spending very little of her prize money on herself. Instead, the teenage scientist will donate the bulk of her winnings to Academy Aid, a non-profit “which strives to help underprivileged students receive a well-rounded education by encouraging STEM and providing supplies to underprivileged schools.” Believe it or not, Chebrolu founded the non-profit herself in 2017, receiving official status in 2020. In just three years, Academy Aid has managed to help schools in India build basketball courts, purchase lunch plates and uniforms, and more!
Meanwhile, the rest of the cash will go towards more research. “I would also use some of the money to continue my research to develop my anti-viral into an effective and potent drug,” Chebrolu said.
All in all, the teenager wants every to know that anyone can accomplish their dreams! “Whenever you see an opportunity just go for it,” she stated proudly. “You can do a lot if you just have confidence in yourself and believe in yourself…I just wanted to help the world and let children know that they can do whatever they want to accomplish.” While this 14-year-old might not think of herself as a hero, everyone else certainly does!