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17 year old awarded $50,000 international science prize

Studying has paid off for a 17-year-old rising high school senior.

Indian American Saathvik Kannan won one of two Regeneron Young Scientist Awards of $50,000 at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, reports the Columbia Tribune.

The other award went to a trio from Bangkok Christian College in Thailand.

Kannan developed models that looked into the heightened infectivity of monkeypox or mpox.

The young man attends Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri.

According to the Society of Science, he used machine learning and 3-dimensional modeling to decode structures that enabled monkeypox to replicate.

From there he identified mutations of the virus that made mpox more infectious.

“I was overjoyed and incredibly excited!” he said to the Columbia Tribune. “I felt that it reflected our work with Dr. (Kamlendra) Singh’s mentorship and guidance over the last few years culminating in my project from this year.”

The Columbia Missourian reports Kannan learned the computer language python in the eighth grade. His father is a professor at Missouri University and introduced his son to Singh. The then 14 year old wrote a program for Singh to help analyze mutations for various organisms.

The program has lead to findings from which Singh has written multiple papers that have received national and international acclaim in the scientific community.

Kannan has been given first or second authorship on all of Singh’s papers.

“For me, it’s nothing more than acknowledgement of my work,” he said. ”The first authorship is like having a grade for your work, but it’s not actual thing that you learned,” said Kannan.

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