2013-02-14

Co.Exist

What Happens To Genius Kids After They Win The Google Science Fair?

When she was 17, Shree Bose won $50,000 from Google for research into ovarian cancer. What is she up to now? Still blowing minds.

Shree Bose, center, after winning the Google Science Fair.

Meet Shree Bose. At age 17, the Fort Worth, Texas, native won the $50,000 Google Science Fair, a global online science fair, with her research on improving ovarian cancer patients who have become resistant to common chemotherapy treatments. Like many national science fair winners, Bose is precocious and capable enough to take on an array of scientific research. But we rarely hear about what science fair winners do after they’ve won. We decided to catch up with Bose, now a freshman at Harvard University (natch), to see what she has been up to.

Bose was a veteran at science fairs by the time she spotted an ad for Google’s competition on the search giant’s homepage. "I thought, 'Why don’t I give it a shot?' I decided to make a website on my research about ovarian cancer, and submitted the link to the science fair." We know the rest of that story: Bose was selected as one of 15 global finalists in the 2011 fair, where she eventually won first place in the 17 to 18 age group and scooped up an internship at Cern, a trip to the Galápagos Islands, and a $50,000 scholarship.

The young scientist didn’t continue on her research immediately after the fair. Her senior year, she spent a lot of time traveling (and, you know, occasionally meeting President Obama). And then, the summer before college, Bose did some research at the National Institutes of Health with a director that she had met in her travels to Washington, D.C. "The kinds of people you get to meet are an amazing part of the entire prize," she says.

These days, Bose is back at work on cancer research. "At the moment I’m absolutely fascinated with cancer metabolism," says the molecular and cellular biology major. She recently started working with a lab at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she’s getting to explore her research interests—cancer metabolism and DNA repair—further.

There’s no telling where Bose’s research will go in the future. She has also, for example, become fascinated with autism and the brain. "I’m interested in basically everything I read," says Bose.

The Google Science Fair is still young, so none of its winners have had the chance yet to grow up and do big things. But Wikipedia has an unconfirmed list of famous scientists who either won or were finalists in the Intel (formerly Westinghouse) Science Talent Search, including Eric Lander, the co-chair of Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; Frank Wilczek, a winner of the Nobel Prize for physics; and Lisa Randall, the first tenured female theoretical physicist at MIT and Harvard. Science fair winners go on to do big things.

Bose’s advice for kids interested in signing up for the Google Science Fair: pick something you’re excited about—an innovative solution to a problem that affects you. "Those can often be the best projects," she says.

Submissions are now open for the 2013 Google Science Fair. Check it out here.

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