She is barely 14 years old and yet the results of her research are so solid that she has just been appointed “best young scientist of the year” by the 3M Challenge jury in the United States, receiving a bonus of $ 25,000. Anika Chebrolu is Indian-American and it all started in 2019, when she heard about the competition and decided, after discussion with her teachers, to participate.
Initially, his research focused on influenza: how can we permanently eradicate this seasonal virus which still escapes us despite the existence of vaccines? And then, at the beginning of the year, arrived the Sars-CoV-2, a new virus which pushed her to redirect her research. The principle: to check whether the coronavirus can be weakened, or, better, deactivated by an external molecule. To do this, Anika sifted through nearly 700 million chemical components, and by dint of making combinations, she found a protein which, by clinging to the virus molecule, cancels its viral action.
Covid-19 requires, she made her presentation in front of the jury by videoconference, in perfect mastery of her subject, tables, graphs and diagrams in support, as if she had already graduated, as if she had at least ten years older. But all of this does not come out of nowhere. It was her grandfather, a chemistry teacher, who initiated her as a child into biology, physics, and science in general.
When I was eight, my grandfather made me learn the periodic table of the elements in the form of a game and a whole bunch of rules, possible combinations, I found that fascinating.Anika Chebrolu
at CBS Dallas
When asked where she sees herself later, she answers unsurprisingly that she would like to do medical research, “But meanwhile, she says, I’m a normal teenager. “ Indeed, what she likes is going out with her friends, drawing, and taking Indian dance lessons. What reminds us that it is never too early to start to whet your curiosity. At a time when the importance of teaching and the transmission of knowledge is being asserted, Anika, thanks to her grandfather and her teachers, largely deserves her award.