Vaishnavi Rao, 2012 Life Sciences Award

Written by on August 25, 2012 in 2012, Life Sciences Award, Student

Vaishnavi Rao

Vaishnavi Rao

Canyon Crest Academy
San Diego, CA

Since elementary school, Vaishnavi has demonstrated an innate curiosity for science and hands-on experimentation. Over the years, her passion and love for science, particularly biology, built up as she studied the behavioral aspects of fear, the biomedical applications of Kisspeptins, and the effects of cytokines in asthma to name a few. In high school, she has developed a deep passion for neuroscience and the brain. Most recently, she has been conducting pioneering research at the University of California, San Diego, on the regulation of gaseous neurotransmitter nitric oxide using electrical activity.

This research is fundamentally challenging the notion that neurons are immutable with respect to the neurotransmitters they express. Her study on neurotransmitter plasticity has far reaching applicability in potential therapies targeting neurological disorders such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. Her work has received tremendous recognition at local, State as well as International (Intel ISEF) Science Fairs. Recently, she also won the San Diego Brain Bee 2012 and placed 6th overall at the USA National Brain Bee competitions held in Baltimore, Maryland.

Ms. Rao loves to share her passion for biological sciences and natural habitats. For the past three years, Vaishnavi has been serving as the President of the Inquiry Club at her school, where she coaches other students on the scientific methods for experimentation. On the weekends, she has been a Conservation Corp volunteer at the San Diego Zoo and the Zoo’s Wild Animal Park.

Besides science, Vaishnavi demonstrates strong proficiency in vocal Indian classical music. She trains with a renowned musician in India and has performed at various events both domestic and abroad. She is also the co-founder of the Chess Club and a key member of the Academic Team at her school.

Vaishnavi aspires to be a neurosurgeon so that she can improve the lives of patients with neurological disorders and apply some of the research she has been working on thus far.

The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is honored to have had the assistance of the following distinguished individuals serving on the 2012 Life Sciences Awards Evaluation Committee:

  • Russell A. Bantham, Esquire
    McLean, VA
  • Alan Bronstein
    Chemistry Teacher (2009 Frieda J. Riley Teacher Award Recipient)
    Central High School
    Philadelphia, PA
  • Edward Einstein, Ph.D.
    Director & Associate Professor
    Center for Advance Research in Biotechnology
    University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute
    Rockville, Maryland
  • Christine Leyden
    Senior Vice President and Chief Accreditation Officer
    Washington, D.C.


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