Gitanjali Rao is 17 years old and is a freshman at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. In the past few years she was involved in research at the University of Colorado, Denver in the Department of Cell Biology to find a solution for prescription opioid addiction using the latest in genetic engineering and created a colorimetry based app and device. This initiative received a world finalist's recognition in a Technovation Girl Challenge and a Health Pillar award by TCS Ignite Innovation challenge nationally. She introduced the device in TEDtalksNayibaat India.
She was previously named America's Top Young Scientist of 2017 by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, with a patent-pending device to detect lead in water faster than any other current techniques. She is also the winner of a global Paradigm science challenge.
Gitanjali recently launched an anti-cyberbullying service based on AI/Machine Learning using Natural Language Processing in the community called "KINDLY" under Microsoft's guidance. She was awarded the eCYBERMISSION STEM in Action grant to implement the solution.
Gitanjali was recently honored as Junior Eureka Finalist by the Shanghai Media Group, where she solved a problem using AI for the first intergenerational care by creating a simple solution that understands the elderly and children's persona and helps staff members create and facilitate activities.
She is an active STEM promoter and is involved in promoting STEM-based activities in schools, clubs, and the community. She was selected as the National STEM Scout of the Year. She conducts innovation sessions weekly and has impacted more than 70,000 elementary, middle, and high school students by globally sharing her process and tools across four continents.
She was recognized as a 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 for science and the lead detection tool's invention. She is also an EPA Presidential award winner and is recognized as a Gloria Barron' Young Hero' Honoree for community impact.
Gitanjali has open-sourced her lead detector invention processor, her colorimetry-based algorithm for prescription opioid detection, and app code for the community. It has been used for other applications.
Some of Gitanjali's hobbies include playing the piano, Indian classical dancing and singing, swimming, fencing, and baking. She has been playing classical music for almost nine years. She shares her talent in playing piano in local assisted living centers.
Gitanjali is on the board of Directors for an organization called Children's Kindness Network that spreads an anti-bullying message and promotes the importance of kindness in all of us. She conducts workshops in elementary schools and hopes to educate children about kindness when they are still young.
Gitanjali has won awards for her writing in national and international contests. She published her first book at the age of 9, called "Baby Brother Wonders." Based on the story that won 2nd prize in the PBS national writing contest, the self-illustrated book described the world through her younger brother's point of view. Gitanjali has also won first place in the International Aviation Art Contest for the last four years at the state level, and her art is displayed at Nashville International airport. She was a "TIME for Kids" Kid reporter in 2018 and wrote articles bringing awareness to the Flint crisis. Apart from writing and art, Gitanjali is part of STEM Scouts and 4-H club and runs innovation and technology workshops for elementary schools worldwide.
She is a three-time TEDx speaker and a TED speaker apart from speaking in several girls' and global conferences and being a UNICEF panelist about the role of Youth to power the planet. Gitanjali was recently selected as a partner for Forbes Ignite Network. She is piloting a concept called Empathy Sharktank that helps in employee-employer engagement and staff development for start-ups and schools.
Gitanjali aspires to study genetics combined with computer science with product design. She is an avid problem solver and thrives in collaborating with organizations that promote innovation and creativity.