Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg High student speaks on biotechnology at a Toronto conference

ST. PETERSBURG — When St. Petersburg High School student Harsha Kuchampudi learned he had been selected to give a "TED" talk in Canada, he didn't go around bragging.

In fact one of his teachers, Jamie Day, only learned about the honor because he heard another student mention it.

"He never would have told any of us," Day said with a chuckle.

Kuchampudi, 17, is a senior in the International Baccalaureate program who is described as humble, polite and "very, very bright," as Day put it.

But last Thursday he stepped into an international spotlight.

Kuchampudi spoke at a conference known as [email protected], a name that may require some translation. It was a conference formed in the spirit of TED lectures — talks on "Technology, Engineering, Design," which have become extremely popular on the Internet. This conference, at the York School in Toronto, was for students in IB programs, as well as adults. And the somewhat vague theme was: "Taking on the World."

IB teachers spread word of the opportunity, and Kuchampudi decided to apply. Some of his own life experiences made him settle on the topic of biotechnology.

Kuchampudi has volunteered at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, where he assisted in the clinical research unit. Most of the time he helped nurses and patients, but "every now and then I got the opportunity to go watch the biomedical engineers and it was really fascinating."

He also got the chance to be an intern with the University of South Florida's Ecosystems Technology Group, under scientist David Fries, who uses an underwater rover that can take scientific measurements and report them out via Twitter.

After learning to his delight that he had been selected to attend the conference, Kuchampudi gave his talk at the Toronto School on Wednesday, telling the audience — in person and online — that "biotechnology can truly revolutionize the world."

For example, he said, genetically modified crops can be much more resistant to droughts or flooding, providing food even in difficult times. He said he saw the importance of this on a family trip to India, when a rough monsoon system increased the price of rice, so "there was much tension between the government and the people."

Biotechnology also can be used to monitor the health of the oceans, he said, and told his audience about his experience with USF's underwater rover. Similar rovers could monitor pollution levels in seas across the globe, he said.

"The longer we wait to take more efficient actions to reduce pollution levels in our world's oceans, the more we risk losing the diversity of the species," he said.

Kuchampudi said he enjoyed speaking at the conference and hearing others offer "truly a unique perspective on taking on the world's most difficult problems."

Meanwhile, back at St. Petersburg High, teachers in several classes allowed their students to watch Kuchampudi's talk via the Internet. Until a fire drill interrupted it. Fortunately, the students were able to catch the rest of his talk after returning to the building.

On the web

Check it out

To see Harsha Kuchampudi's talk via the Internet, go to new.livestream.com/tedx/ibyorkschool. His portion is in Session 1, about an hour and six minutes in.

St. Petersburg High student speaks on biotechnology at a Toronto conference 11/17/12 [Last modified: Saturday, November 17, 2012 3:32am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday

    Blogs

    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  2. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start

    College

    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  5. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)

    Nation

    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102