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Updated: June 6, 2013 14:24 IST

His passion lies in chemistry

Vasudha Venugopal
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Raghavendra Ramachanderan who won the first prize at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Photo: Vivek Nagarajan
The Hindu
Raghavendra Ramachanderan who won the first prize at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Photo: Vivek Nagarajan

He talks at length about anti-cancer agents and molecular properties, and wonders how nice it would be if all schools encouraged students to approach science with curiosity and passion.

“You don't need to be a chemist to appreciate chemistry,” says Raghavendra Ramachanderan, a 16 year- old-student of St John's International Residential School here who won the first prize for his research in drug synthesis at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Los Angeles recently.

The global fair, which saw over 1,500 students from 65 countries participating, was attended by nine Indian students.

Two years ago, Raghavendra had approached his parents with a plan to take a break from school because he wanted to immerse himself completely in Chemistry. “Normally parents wouldn't allow such things, but he was not speaking like a child. He knew exactly where his passion was,” says his father R.Ramachanderan.

Magic of chemistry

“The magic of chemistry lies hidden in books. It takes time to unearth that,” says Raghavendra, recalling times when he would go back again and again to chapters he found interesting.

His prize winning project “Drug synthesis, braving legendary challenges,” could help in developing drugs to fight cancer, bacteria and fungus, he says.

The project was undertaken at the University of Madras and at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. “My school, parents, mentors R. Raghavachary and S. Chandrasekaran, every one supported me,” he says. The trigger for all this interest, however, was his Chemistry teacher in class XI. “Subramaniyam sir explained the mole concept, relatively boring among all chapters in Chemistry, with such simplicity,” he says.

Besides the $ 9,000 prize money, Raghavendra, like other winners in the fair will be honoured by having an asteroid named after him.

Use of internet

And while he might be obsessed with chemistry, he does take out time to read Jane Austen and Emily Bronte, and play the veena. His father feels, besides his innate inclination towards the subject, it is his usage of the internet “for the right purposes” that has helped him focus and learn more. Raghavendra explains it differently, “If you love science, science loves you - it is unusually rewarding. Chemistry can be unpredictable, but don't stop hoping!”

Congratulations Raghavendra, the country is proud of you.

from:  Ramesh Reddy
Posted on: Jul 19, 2011 at 16:55 IST

Congratulations Raghavendra. We are proud of your remarkable achievement in a global competition. You have been under the expert guidance of Prof. S. Chandrasekaran at the IISc. Please go back to the IISc for your master's/Ph.D programs and take off. I wish you all the best

from:  Nagaswami Venkatasubramanian
Posted on: Jul 8, 2011 at 02:13 IST

Good keep it up.You may be a good candidate for Bio Organic Chemistry and may even become a synhetic Bio oRGANIC AND mEDICAL cHEMIST BUT you should not be attracted to professional colleges at this stage of study .Is it possible?As a PhD from Indian Institute of Science,a Post Doctoral from USA and as senior Chemistry Professor i would advice you to take up Science as major subject of study and take up summer Research projects from IISc,Bangalore,Good Luck,Dr.Ravi

from:  Dr A.Ravi
Posted on: Jun 8, 2011 at 22:18 IST

Good to see we have started unearthing Indian talents with appropriate recognition. These children should have good networking to nurture these talents and create a science world among them. Also, the teachers like Mr. Subramaniam should need recognition .

from:  K R Sugavanam
Posted on: Jun 7, 2011 at 02:23 IST

Good morning - A good sign indeed but allow your brain to evolve outside the country - there where you get an open platform to learn if you are really interested in Chemistry. The subject even allows you to understand what happens within you, during preparation of such a curious subject of Chemistry. Chemistry is a central science for them who play with molecules and consider them as friends. Regards

from:  Dr R Dayal Yadav
Posted on: May 25, 2011 at 06:44 IST
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