Biotechnology / Competitions / Robotics / Youth

CSW junior named finalist in International BioGENEius Challenge

Preeti Krishnamani takes on one of the world's most pressing food-security issues.

Preeti Krishnamani is heading to BIO 2018 as a finalist in the International BioGENEius Challenge. (Courtesy photo)

Preeti Krishnamani, a junior at Charter School of Wilmington, is one of only 15 finalists from the U.S., Canada and Germany selected for the International BioGENEius Challenge, recognizing outstanding research by high-school students in biotechnology. She will showcase her research at BIO 2018, which begins June 4, 2018.

Krishnamani’s project is titled “Effects of Silicon Amendments on the Concentration and Adsorption Properties of Iron-Oxides in Paddy Soils.” To put it simply, her research aims to reduce poisonous contamination of the world’s rice supply.

Or, in her words:

Arsenic contamination in rice plants threatens food security and human health worldwide. While scientists discovered that incorporating silicon in soil decreases arsenic uptake directly, the effects of silicon on iron-oxide minerals that control arsenic cycling in the soil−rice nexus have not been studied. My research investigates how different silicon-rich materials (amendments), specifically rice residues like rice husk and rice husk ash, impact the formation of iron-oxides and alter their arsenic adsorption properties.

“I feel honored to represent Delaware in the International BioGENEius Challenge,” said Krishnamani. “When I first learned about this issue after attending a seminar my mentor gave at UD last spring, I was shocked, yet compelled. As an Indian-American, rice is a very important part of my culture and lifestyle, so I knew I wanted to get involved in some way and become a part of the solution.”

Krishnamani’s involvement with STEM goes back to her early childhood. “My love and obsession for Legos is what got me excited about STEM,” she said. “Through elementary and middle school, I loved building and coding robots for FIRST Lego League (FLL) competitions. … I remember the first year I participated, the theme was ‘Food Factor’ (food contamination). This is what got me thinking actively about the issues that I am working to solve today.”

Her mentor, Dr. Angelia Seyfferth of the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, provided Krishnamani the opportunity to join her lab. “It allowed me to delve into a problem to which I have a special connection, and work across scientific disciplines to create a positive, sustainable impact on society,” she said.

In addition to STEM, Krishnamani has an interest in business, both of which shape her plans for the future. “In my vision to bridge the gap between science and management, I see myself blending my passions for materials science and business in the future, to serve my community through meaningful innovation,” she said.

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