“Girls Leading Change” honorees include Indian American Gitanjali Rao



Gitanjali Rao. PHOTO: @gitanjalirao.net

In celebration of International Day of the Girl, First Lady Jill Biden announced the name of 15 young women October 11, 2023, who are leading change and shaping a brighter future in communities across the United States, a White House press release said. Among them is Gitanjali Rao, 17, of Colorado, a scientist and inventor.

The young leaders were selected by the White House Gender Policy Council, and a celebration was held on Oct. 11, at the White “to recognize the profound impact young women are having on their communities and their efforts (at) strengthening our country for generations to come,” the White House said.

“These young women are protecting and preserving the earth, writing and sharing stories that change minds, and turning their pain into purpose. Together, they represent the potential of young people across the country, and it is my hope that others can learn from the power of their innovation, strength, and hope,” the First Lady is quoted saying.

Seventeen -year old Rao, who is from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, is a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Rao’s groundbreaking lead contamination detection tool won her an EPA Presidential Award and America’s Top Young Scientist by Discovery Education/3M.

Her book Young Innovator’s Guide to STEM, which offers a prescriptive five-step innovation process, is used as a STEM curriculum globally in selected schools, noted the White House in the brief biography provided.

Time Magazine’s first-ever Kid of the Year, “Gitanjali is committed to not only continuing her career as a scientist and inventor, but expanding her STEM education initiative, which has already touched more than 80,000 elementary, middle, and high school students.”

On her eponymous website gitanjalirao.net, bio, it says she has been involved over the past few years in research at the University of Colorado, Denver in the Department of Cell Biology to find a solution for prescription opioid addiction using the latest in genetic engineering and created a colorimetry based app and device. This initiative received a world finalist’s recognition in a Technovation Girl Challenge and a Health Pillar award by TCS Ignite Innovation challenge nationally. She introduced the device in TEDtalksNayibaat India.

She also recently launched an anti-cyberbullying service based on AI/Machine Learning using Natural Language Processing in the community called “KINDLY” under Microsoft’s guidance. She was awarded the eCYBERMISSION STEM in Action grant to implement the solution, the biography says.



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