Visiting X, Store of 2030, Quantum Dots, and Redwoods
Letter? I Hardly Know Her! - May 2022
Welcome, WELCOME to Letter? I Hardly Know Her! I’m Apoorva (the her in question), a 17 y/o researcher, artist, writer, keynote speaker, and advocate for youth and gender minorities in STEAM. This newsletter is a means for me to keep track of my personal & professional growth, and to share all the good stuff I’m working on! First-timers: it’s great to meet you, I’m so glad you’re here! For my regular hardly-knowers, here’s your promised, extra special greeting: welcome again you genuine and lovable ray of sunshine, seeing you again is like reading your favorite childhood book again—pure happiness and comfort.
If you too want an extra greeting, you better subscribe:
As a heads up, I publish newsletters on each MONTH/MONTH, i.e. 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, … , 12/12. Is it the most efficient system? Frankly, no. But is it the most funky fresh? Absolutely it is.
Happy May, Hardly-Knowers! It’s been a long and busy month (hence why this is a couple days late), so let’s get going!
Accepted into Involve
This week, I found out that a paper I worked on with my wonderful research mentor Dr. Jesse Thorner at the 2020 UVa REU got accepted for publication in Involve, a Journal of Mathematics. You can view the updated arXiv version here:
Short-interval Sector Problems for CM Elliptic Curves
This paper is definitely one that I’m most proud of—it was a grueling (but fun) process to learn technical analytic number theory for it.
You can learn more about what it’s about here!
Walmart Innovation Challenge - Store of 2030
Earlier in April, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pitch a vision to reinvent the Walmart store of the future for 2030. Six other Gen Z students and I spoke to a live audience of 400+ people and were broadcast to thousands more internationally, including multiple C-suite executives and the CEO of Walmart Canada himself, Horacio Barbeito.
I got to kick-off the event with my own experience as a Gen Z shopper, and spoke about our values of empathy, honesty, and sustainability as a generation. To hear more details, you can check out my post about it!
I’m so grateful for my brilliant team, Rachel Lee and Yelim Kim (go Team Ray!) and had so much fun presenting alongside these amazing people: Elly Peng, Chandhana Sathishkumar, Milind Kumar, Peyton Verhoeven, Teerka Baskaran, Ethan Selvarajah.
I can’t thank my wonderful directors Ian Lockhart and Damian Matheson enough for their constant support, and Dan Jacob & The Knowledge Society (TKS) for making this possible for literal teenagers! And, of course, an enormous thank you to the incredibly kind and welcoming Walmart team.
See the feature post from Walmart Canada here!
Board Member and Advisor @ Star Hands Organization
Super excited to have joined Star Hands Organization’s international board as a STEAM advisor. The founders Mariam and Moses do incredible work to directly address the pressing problems affecting vulnerable youth and girls living in Uganda. To encourage safe and sustainable menstrual hygiene, the most recent project is the “My Pads Program” with the goal to provide 1000 menstrual kits in impoverished communities in Uganda and also dispel the myths and taboo around menstruation.
Redwoods, Resilience, Climate Change, and You!
To celebrate Earth Day, I hosted this Flipgrid Live Event with three AMAZING California Redwood National and State Park rangers! We talked about how climate change is affecting the old growth redwood trees, how these incredible trees hold a bright promise for a better future, and how we can all be part of the climate crisis solution.
You can catch the event here!
I’ll be hosting two more Flipgrid Live Events later this month, so stay tuned.
Panel for Genius Education Zambia’s Global Summit
At the beginning of April, I was invited to speak on a panel for Genius Education Zambia’s 2nd Global STEM Summit under the theme: “Integrating Art to propel STEM innovation, forging a new world and a new future.” The summit brought together over 200 STEAM enthusiasts, changemakers and leaders from around the world, and it was a fascinating conversation on the intersection of creativity, STEM, and innovation, and their role in the future. Despite it being in the early hours of the morning for me, I had an amazing time talking about the beauty of biomimicry, debating whether art is a science and/or science is an art, and just having an insightful conversation with fellow artists and scientists about how art lets us interpret the world around us.
I shared the stage with the incredible Bupe Chikumbi (Founder of Genius Education Zambia), Zikambiyani Haanyika, William Wapi, and Dr. Mwiche Songolo.
(We all look very serious here, but I promise it was tons of fun!)
Speaker for Pi515’s Girls’ Entrepreneurship Summit 2022
On April 16th, I spoke to young girls in Iowa about innovation and entrepreneurship, and how they can jump start it for their own goals. We talked about asking crazy “what if?” questions, making unconventional combinations to find their niche and solve big problems, and how innovation is like jumping on a trampoline.
Visiting X, the Moonshot Factory
This past week, I was invited to X, the Moonshot Factory (formerly Google X) and got to see a bit of their incredible campus (including the insanely cool X stairs)! X works on solving the world’s hardest problems using breakthrough technology to create 10x impact. We talked about the constant quick iterating and prototyping the teams do for their ideas, and how X is expanding their outreach and partnerships for the future.
I geeked out about artifacts from their past projects (prototypes from Loon, an actual buggy from Mineral, and the self-driving Firefly from Waymo)! What an absolutely unforgettable experience—I’m super grateful to have been able to visit X.
Synthis: Bringing Renewable Energy to Life
This past month, I was part of a team working on a moonshot of our own! Since this newsletter is already fairly long, I’ll save most of the details for the next one (since we just finished our final pitch today), but it was such an incredible learning experience. I worked with four wonderful people: Rachel Lee, Noémie Pound, Graeme Epp, and Tobias Grether-Murray, who are some of the most genuine and intelligent people I know.
In a nutshell, our solution to the alleviate the energy crisis is a biodegradable, self-growing bacterial solar panel that is five times more efficient than current standard solar panels. It is a scalable and truly renewable source of energy that we can use to sustain all future generations, especially considering that we’ll need to double our global energy production by 2050.
If you’re intrigued (which you should be!), you can check out our website synthis.co, and our article, 90-second video, and one-pager explaining the details behind Synthis.
(Today, we had the opportunity to pitch Synthis to some insanely knowledgeable tech, innovation, and investing leaders who named Synthis the best overall idea! More on that in the next newsletter. <3)
Gems in STEM: Why Size Matters
Does size matter? It’s an age-old question. To find the answer, let’s make like Alice and take a trip down to our nano-wonderland. In this week’s Gems in STEM article, we’ll explore the magic (aka science) behind quantum dots and their unique optical properties that let them shine in the spotlight! From solar cells to colorful TVs to medicine, we’ll investigate QDs to determine once & for all if size really matters.
Why Size Matters: An Intro to Quantum Dots
As a quick recap: my column, Gems in STEM, is a place to learn about various STEM topics that I find exciting, and that I hope will excite you too! The column is always written to be fairly accessible, so you don’t have to worry about not having background knowledge. However, it does occasionally get more advanced towards the end.
The Fun, the Fresh, & the Funky
Fortunately (despite all the craziness), we ALWAYS make time for the fun, fresh, and funky.
I passed my driver’s test (on my second try, whoops) and got my license! I feel a little too grown up now.
I also visited my sister, Anoohya, at UC Berkeley and celebrated Cal Day! (…meaning I got a bunch of free stuff on the weekend where they welcome new admits.) We also just celebrated her 19th birthday this past week. <3
And, of course, went on a couple hikes! My favorite (both for this month and probably in general) was the Mount Umunhum trail—the view is absolutely stunning.
Coming up next on Keeping Up With (K)Apoorva...
Flipgrid Live Events
I’ll be hosting two more live events in May - Explore 2,500 years of history at the Parthenon (May 20th) and Intrepid Museum Exploring Space (May 27th)
Global Tech Conference in June (not allowed to share details yet)
Gems in STEM (Topic TBD)
As always, there will be more articles published for my column on Medium, so follow me to stay updated!
Speaking at AERO Conference in June
I’ll be talking about how youth can leverage online platforms to explore their interests, grow, and start businesses. The AERO conference is the only one that brings together all who are interested in learner-directed, learner-centered education. This is a multigenerational, virtual, global conference that will feature networking, youth-led presentations, workshops, keynotes, and more.
Applied math project at RSI
And that’s it, friends! I promise next month’s newsletter will be on time—see you in June!
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A truly amazing human in and out
Frankly Apoorva you are the most incredible human being I know. I am honored to be your friend and am so proud of all that you do. Thank you for being the sunshine in my life. ☀️❤️