Bengaluru student wins Breakthrough Science prize totalling Rs 2.9 Crore

Last year, Samay’s video was the only Indian's to have reached the Junior Challenge finals.

Scientists are busy at work finding cures for Alzheimers’ and Parkinson's, and a Bangalore teenager is right at their heels with a breakthrough to fight the diseases.

A Class 11 student of National Public School, Koramangala, Samay Godika represented the country and his school at the Breakthrough Junior Challenge this year and brought back the ultimate, Rs 2.9 crore science prize. Samay won the award competing with 13 other finalists among roughly 8,000 entries.

Samay’s winning video was an explainer on the science of circadian rhythms, called ‘the body clock’, and how it affects the effectiveness of medical treatments.

The Breakthrough Prize Junior Challenge is a global competition for students between 13 to 18 years of age that requires them to research, create and submit videos on current and complex topics in life sciences, physics, and mathematics.

These are judged based on how engaging and informative they are, and the work and creativity that went into its production. Part of the evaluation is also a ‘Popular Vote’ on Facebook, where a public poll captures votes on all the entries. This contest was won by Nikhiya Shamsher, also from National Public School, Koramangala.

Last year, Samay’s video was the only Indian one to have made it to the Junior Challenge finals. While he didn’t take home the winning prize last year, he clinched the top prize, worth $400,000 (~Rs 2.9 Crore) as prize money.

While Samay himself will take home the bulk of the prize $250,000 (Rs 1.8 Crores) in the form of a college scholarship. The prize also awards his science teachers for Class 9 and 10 with a $50,000 (~Rs. 36 lakh) prize, and a state of the art science lab worth $100,000 (~Rs 72 lakh)

Samay Godika, this year's Breakthrough Prize winner. Image courtesy: YouTube/Breakthrough

Samay Godika, this year's Breakthrough Prize winner. Image courtesy: YouTube/Breakthrough

“It feels amazing and unbelievable… participating in, and now winning the Breakthrough Junior Challenge is life-changing, thrilling and such an honour. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to be recognized,” Samay told Bangalore Mirror.

The Breakthrough Prize is funded by Russian tech investor and billionaire Yuri Milner, an early backer of tech giants like Facebook and Twitter through his venture fund, DST Global.

“We are trying to send a message to children that you can be popular by what people want to see as role models. Earlier winners have become like celebrities and have been covered extensively by their local press. If you look at social media, be it Facebook, Twitter, or any other platform, among the top 100-200 most followed people you won’t find a single scientist. That is what we are trying to change,” Milner told Economic Times.

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