Anika Chebrolu, a student at Independence High School in Frisco, recently won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge and $25,000.
“I developed this molecule that can bind to a certain protein on the SARS COVID-2 virus,” Chebrolu explained. “This protein by binding to it it will stop the function of the protein… I started with a database of over 682 million compounds.”
The 14-year-old was only in middle school when she entered the contest months ago and originally planned her project to involve the seasonal flu. She later changed it to COVID-19 and says she was driven by the scope of the pandemic and the people who were suffering.
“We just always have this constant fear who’s going to be affect by the coronavirus,” Chebrolu said.
She describes herself as a typical teenager who plans to pursue a career as a medical researcher when she gets out of school.
“My grandpa when I was younger he always used to push me toward science. He was actually a chemistry professor and he used to always tell me learn the periodic table of elements,” she said. “Over time I just grew to love it.”
Right now, she’s balancing her search for a COVID cure in between classical Indian dance training and practicing her skills as an artist.
“I describe myself as a person who aspires to be a lot of things,” Chebrolu said.