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The BioGENEius Challenge: Priyen Patel

February 7, 2012
By Priyen Patel, 2011 U.S. National BioGENEius Media Award Winner

Project Title: Over-the-Counter and In Your Water? The Most Effective Filtration of Pharmaceuticals

Project Description: Research shows minute concentrations of drugs in 51 million Americans' water, leading to tumors and reproductive problems in fish and slowing the growth of kidney cells in humans. I focused on filtering ibuprofen and acetaminophen and my results are: the water distiller (100% effective), the activated carbon filter and ion exchange filter (99.98% effective), the activated carbon filter (99.91% effective), and the carbon block filter (2.84% effective).

The BioGENEius Challenge is certainly a program unlike any other because of the opportunities and experiences it provides for teenagers who are still in high school. Science is definitely exciting, especially with the tremendous advances the field has been making recently. What better way to encourage progress than to get the future generation of scientists and researchers motivated to pursue careers in this field? I know this program has played a major role in helping me decide on a career in science. It is not often that teenagers are asked to speak on the radio, let alone speak on radio stations all across the country about research! My project last year dealt with filtration of pharmaceuticals such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen from the water supply. I feel privileged to have been the Media Award winner because this was one opportunity that does not come knocking again. Meeting with teenagers across the globe was also another unique experience because other students were conducting impressive research at such a young age. On top of this opportunity, the BioGENEius Challenge paid for me to attend the 2011 BIO International Convention in Washington, DC where all the latest breakthroughs in science were on display. I saw new technology there that I would have refused to believe prior to the event; I realized the future definitely looks bright if science continues its rapid progression. Now, everywhere I look, I see science at work because no matter which career an individual chooses, research and technology are always making the world a more exciting place. What other program offers high school teenagers so many opportunities?

After returning from the National BioGENEius Challenge last year, I was interviewed by local newspapers such as Going Green on Delmarva, the Seaford Star, and the Cape Gazette, as well as by my own school. By participating, I received many opportunities to inform my local community about chemicals that may be lurking in the community’s own water supply. If this media exposure wasn't something any teenager would already be delighted with, I even got the opportunity to meet with Delaware's senators and governor and present my project! A thank you is not enough to express how grateful I really am. Over the last summer, I conducted research on extracting mitochondrial DNA from animal hair samples. I am a junior this year at Sussex Technical High School in Georgetown, Delaware, and I am currently researching a chemical compound that may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. I hope to continue to conduct research because the BioGENEius Challenge has truly sparked my interest!