Mysuru students win ISF Nutrition Challenge

Setting standards
Last Updated 21 January 2019, 17:43 IST

Two city students have won the Infosys Science Foundation (ISF) Nutrition Challenge Prize, in Bengaluru, recently.

The students of Excel Public School, Sandeep Rao and Prithve Shekar, have won the top prize in a virtual challenge, hosted by ISF and conducted by New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS).

With over 3,000 students from around the country expressing interest, the challenge was to use STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to effectively combat malnutrition among expectant mothers and children under the age of five. Prithve Shekar and Sandeep Rao, class 12 students of Excel Public School, Mysuru, collaborated with three other students from Chennai and Bengaluru.

The solution, designed by the team, revolves around the effective distribution of a nutrient pod that enhances nutritional value of food. The Infosys prize enables them to visit the Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) at Sriharikota, to witness the launch of a rocket. They will also get a membership of the Junior Academy of NYAS. In addition, each member of the winning team received a scholarship of Rs 5 lakh.

Sandeep and Prithve are members of the Junior Academy since 2016 and were chosen as Pepsico Nutrition Challenge Finalists in 2017. They were recognised for creating a novel non-invasive, affordable test to detect malnutrition. As challenge 2030 finalists, they were awarded an all expense paid trip to New York to present their work during the bicentennial celebrations of NYAS before Nobel Laureates, Blavatnik scholars and leaders in business and science streams in May 2017.


Prithve Shekar represented India at CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland in July 2018, during a two-week summer programme. He was among the students from 30 countries and got an opportunity to tour CERN’s research labs, to attend lectures by Nobel Laureates, and to build particle detectors.

He received an all expense paid trip to Geneva. ‘Times Spark’ recognised him as one of India’s best students in English and awarded a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh. As a finalist in the 2016 Pepsico Junior Academy Challenge, he won an all expense paid trip to New York to attend the first Global Stem Alliance Summit. He was one of a three-member team, spanning India, the US and the UK, that presented a research focused on food waste reduction and also created a material comprised of titanium dioxide nanoparticles in a chitosan matrix that can be applied to any food.

Prithve has been accepted at Rice University, Houston, Texas, with full scholarship for his undergraduate studies on completion of his class 12 board examinations this year. Prithve Shekar is the son of Kiran and Roopa, residents of Gokulam, in the city.

Sandeep Rao was invited to participate in the Launch X summer programme at MIT, Boston, USA, on business and entrepreneurship, with full scholarship in June 2018. He was instrumental in co-founding a startup called Koppen, with three others. In the international Boost Innovation Challenge - 2017, a global challenge by Swedish companies MYoroface and Fiber Optic Valley, Sandeep helped revamp IQoro – a neuromuscular device to help alleviate symptoms of dysphagia. He created a digitised version of the product, re-branded and re-marketed it. His solution was selected as the winner among several thousands of submissions across the world and was awarded a cash prize of Euros 2,500. He was featured in an interview on their website. The competition was open to professionals too.

Sandeep is the first International Griptape grant recipient for 2017. Griptape, a US-based company, awarded him $ 500 to pursue his research project to help match doctors and patients on a convenient digital platform. Sandeep also got a perfect score on IEO, earning him World Rank 1 in the International English Olympiad. He is the son of Ashok and Deepika Rao of Kuvempu Nagar, in the city.

(Published 21 January 2019, 16:45 IST)

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