WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Shreya Ramachandran (11th Grade, American High School, Fremont, CA) was named winner of the Biotechnology Institute’s Gene Pool Competition today at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s BIO Digital 2020 Convention. In its fifth year, the Gene Pool Competition differs significantly from the Institute’s International BioGENEius Challenge and other more standard science fair competitions by taking student finalist out of their comfort zone and into a high paced, fast pitch presentation format to make their case for commercialization potential. Shreya’s research on soap nut “grey water” and soil microbiomes impressed the judges with how to rethink our use of precious water resources, natural sourcing, and sustainable solutions to otherwise damaging practices to the environment.
Shreya is no stranger to receiving accolades for her work. She has been recognized as a California Google Science Fair winner, 2019 Intel ISEF 3rd place finisher, the President’s Environmental Youth award and the Twenty Under Twenty Global Indian award, just to name a few. “We are proud of Shreya and her activism for environmental sustainability” remarked Dr. Larry Mahan, President of the Biotechnology Institute. “She has focused on one of the earth’s most precious resources, fresh water, and how biotechnology applications can provide critical solutions to our self-made problems.”
Grey water is that water derived from sinks, showers, baths and laundry and it can make up 45% - 75% of household wastewater. As such it most often contains environmentally damaging chemicals making its use for other applications, such as agricultural irrigation problematic, costly or worse, prohibitive. It can alter natural soil microbiomes necessary for healthy plant life. Shreya has shown that soap nuts, the berry shell of the Indian soapberry Sapindus mukorossi, which are known for a high saponin content, can act as an effective multi-use detergent. More importantly, she showed that adding the soap nut greywater back to the environment maintained natural microbial communities in the soil. And Shreya practices her science – her family has been using soap nut “detergent” at home for the past three years.
To create awareness of the issues of drought, water consumption practices and environmental impact, Shreya formed “The Grey Water Project”, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. “Shreya is a one of our BioGENEius finalists who reminds us that creativity and passion combined with mentorship and support from other scientists can change the world,” commented Seema Kumar, Gene Pool judge and Vice President, Innovation, Global Public Health and Science Policy Communication at Johnson & Johnson, a major supporter of the BioGENEius Challenge program. “We wish her great success going forward with her research, and we encourage everyone to find out how they can get involved with the Grey Water Project.”
In rewarding the talent of its BioGENEius finalists, the Biotechnology Institute recognizes that these younger generations, those who will inherit the best and the most problematic of our legacy can and will step up to the challenge to make the world, their world, better for all.
About the Biotechnology Institute
The Biotechnology Institute is an independent, national nonprofit organization dedicated to education about the present and future impact of biotechnology. Its mission is to engage, excite and educate the public, particularly students and teachers, about biotechnology and its immense potential for solving human health, food and environmental problems. For more information, visit www.biotechinstitute.org.
About the Grey Water Project
The Grey Water Project is a non-profit organization located in Fremont, CA dedicated to promoting the safe reuse of grey water and water conservation, through outreach, advocacy, policy changes and grey water curricula. For more information, visit www.thegreywaterproject.org.