A Word from a Past CWSF Winner
Aditya Mohan is a senior student at Johns Hopkins University and youth leader in STEM originally from Ottawa, Ontario. Aditya has always been keenly interested in science and the potential it holds to make a difference in the world. Over the years, Aditya has completed and has been awarded in numerous scientific competitions with his work on biofuels, HIV, and cancer research.
Carl Sagan once said that every kid starts out as a natural born scientist. As we grow older, unfortunately we lose our innate scientific curiosity and accept the world at face value. It is for this reason that the importance of science fairs cannot be overstated -- science fairs allow youth the unique opportunity to retain their curiosities, hone their skills to make a difference in the world, and prepare for journeys rich with scientific exploration. As an emerging scientist who began his work within the scope of science fairs, I can vouch for and attest to the value that science fairs and scientific publishing opportunities have had in shaping my career.
When we think of science fairs, a typical mental image comes to mind: a slew of paper mache volcanoes in a converted school gym. This could not be further from the truth. If one wants to see what the future of science and technology looks like, I often tell people that they do not need to walk any further than the aisles of their local science fair. Do not be mistaken -- it is not so much the potential of the ideas being presented which will shape the future as it is that of the individuals presenting the ideas that will.
My journey with science fairs began in Grade 9 when I worked on a project related to extracting biofuels from natural algal sources. This project, although different from my current work, helped to instill me with the values of the natural sciences, innovation, and the scientific spirit that I continue to hold close. My ensuing projects explored the fields of HIV immunology and oncolytic virology, and helped push me along the biomedical research path. My current research, which deals in cancer immunotherapy, is, in reality, simply an amalgamation of the projects and fields I had explored during my science fair years. Aside from the indescribable amount of information I was able to learn as part of my science fair projects, my experiences in science fairs opened up doors which I could not even imagine. Through science fairs, I have been able to establish a support network of researchers across North America at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, McGill University and Johns Hopkins University. I have been able to present my work to some of the largest pharmaceutical companies, travel around the world, and recently even had the opportunity to meet Her Majesty the Queen because of the path that was given to me by science fairs.
Looking back at my science fair journey, I am incredibly thankful for all my experiences and opportunities, as they have undoubtedly shaped my scientific career. I am glad that the launch of CSFJ will open similar opportunities to today’s generation of youth scientists. Publishing as a youth scientist is a very remarkable milestone and is a large accomplishment. In the scientific world, publishing is considered the capstone for any research project. The science projects that are conducted by today’s Canadian youth are not unlike those conducted at the highest level and hence deserved to analogously be published. Publishing allows youth scientists to disseminate their work, is a badge of honor, and adds incredible credibility to the research. I am very excited about the launch of the CSFJ, as it will provide more opportunities to Canadian youth to benefit from the science fair experience and share their work with the world.
I look forward to all that is to come with CSFJ!