Palmetto High School senior Ellora Sarkar was named a regional finalist in the prestigious Siemens competition in Math, Science and Technology for her DNA project to recognize methods to detect different strains of tuberculosis.
More than 2,436 students entered the competition with a record 1,541 projects. Those were cut to 60, with Sarkar’s project the only one from Florida to gain regional honors. The competition took place at Georgia Tech and the regional winner will move on to the finals in Washington, D.C.
“It was fun,” Sarkar says. “I didn’t make it to the next level, but I enjoyed the experience. I was happy to have gone so far. I knew that I did a lot more on my own than people have done in the past.”
Sarkar has been researching quick and cheap methods to detect different strains of TB. She has been working on the research with Dr. Vineet Gupta at the University of Miami since graduating from the ninth grade and it is important to her.
“Imagine that you can’t read and someone gives you four sheets of paper,” she says. “You can’t tell the difference, but if someone put a colored sticky note on one, you could tell the difference. That’s what I did with the four DNA samples, but in a cost effective manner, which we were lacking before.”
Her research project next will be featured in the Intel Science Competition because the rules allow her to use the same project. She is no stranger to competition and often competes for Palmetto in science and math contests.