She wasn't one of the four cash prize winners, but Sumani Nunna, a senior at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, was one of the 15 finalists for the International BioGENEius Challenge, a major science competition for high school students.
And she did get a private audience from a proud North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper as he joined global life science leaders at the 2018 BIO International Convention in Boston.
Nunna, North Carolina’s lone finalist among entrants from around the U.S., Canada and Germany, lives in the Charlotte suburb of Concord.
The BioGENEius Challenge recognizes outstanding research in biotechnology. Nunna and the 14 other finalists showcased their research at the annual BIO event.
The Challenge provides young STEM innovators and entrepreneurs a venue to showcase their research and helps them build a long-term support system.
Sanjeev Kohli, a grade 11 Sir John A Macdonald Secondary School student from Waterloo, Ontario was the $7,500 grand prize winner.
Finalists who received high honors and a $1,000 prize include:
Sriharshita Musunuri, Henry M. Jackson High School, Mill Creek, Washington;
Shloka Janapaty, Presentation High School, San Jose, California;
Tobias Stadelmann, Marta-Schanzenbach-Gymnasium Gengenbach, Gengenbach, Germany.
Nunna said she pursued the research based on inspiration from her mentor, David Dayton, Ph.D., during an internship she had last year at RTI International in Research Triangle Park. Her study is titled, “Increasing the Economic Viability of Biofuels By Recovering Methoxyphenols As Value-Added Bioproducts.”