Making YouTube videos, learning about photosynthesis, skiing + running
Hi everyone! Nice to meet you/see you again! My name is Rachel. I am a 15 y/o innovator at TKS interested in quantum computing, renewable energy, future of food, gene editing and all new tech. I love running and being outside, and I never say no to a challenge. My biggest goal in life is to help solve poverty.
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Videos I made
This month I did not write any articles, and instead only made videos! I had so much fun making these videos, and definitely feel like my recording and editing skills are improving.
(N.B. - These videos go in the order I have listed them. Each video builds off the last.)
This month absolutely flew by! My team and I finished the challenge that we were working on with Walmart, and I have resumed working on my gene editing focus. If I were to summarize what I have been doing this month into 3 words, they would be:
Reading research papers.
Learning about photosynthesis 🌾☀️
I am a total agritech geek, and am so excited about the concept of engineering crops to survive severe weather, to be resistant to pests, to be more nutrient dense, and to produce higher yields. For the past 7 months I have been looking into many different methods and techniques of genetically engineering crops, specifically for developing countries. My hope is that by creating more efficient, nutrient dense crops, one day every single human being on Earth will have enough to eat.
This month I have taken everything that I have learned and put it together into a large project which I’m super excited about. The end goal of my project is to come up with an extremely detailed plan to engineer maize (corn) to:
Produce higher yields
Need less water
Be resistant to common pests
Withstand higher temperatures
Contain more nutrients
Contain no antinutrients
I am hoping to have a step-by-step plan complete by the end of June, so that by the time summer arrives I may be able to test my idea in a lab. My hope is that one day, I will actually create a strand of maize with these characteristics, and it will be distributed to developing nations to help put food on people’s tables.
This month I have been focused on finding a way to increase crop yields, and stumbled upon this incredible paper. The paper dealt with an experiment in tobacco plants where the Cytochrome (Cyt) b6f complex was overexpressed, resulting in a 10% increase in photosynthesis. This 10% increase in photosynthesis increased crop yields by 30%! After learning about this, I went down a 3 week rabbit hole of learning how photosynthesis works, what the Cyt b6f complex is/what it does, reaching out and speaking to the author of the research paper and trying to figure out how I can increase photosynthesis in maize. It has been so incredibly fun, and I have learned so much - best of all, I feel like I am actually on a path to eventually doing something that will impact the world, and help solve the problem of world hunger.
Resources for YOU
Some very interesting videos and articles about how GMOs could end poverty, and about improving photosynthesis to increase crop yields. Enjoy!
Donald Ort - Improving Photosynthetic Efficiency for Improved Crop Yield
Check out the two episodes we released this month with Matthew Espinoza and Dr.Aadeel Akhtar.
Other cool things that happened this month
My life motto has always been “what does not kill you, makes you stronger”. As an endurance runner this especially rings true. But I have been trying to apply this motto more into the work I do - making sure that I put in the work to make a top notch video, or to make sure that I am fully present when reading a complicated paper instead of allowing my mind wander.
In the spirit of doing challenging things, I pulled my little sister cross-country skiing several times this month. My little sister, Ava, who is 8, broke her leg earlier this month. In an attempt to continue enjoying skiing this winter, our family decided that we would pull her along in the chariot while we skied. And that’s exactly what I did.
Apoorva Panidapu, Yelim Kim and I finished the TKS global challenge!! (If you don’t know what this is, check out my February newsletter where I explain). After a month of hard work, our team submitted our recommendation deck to Walmart, and are eagerly waiting to see which teams Walmart would like to speak with further.
As the snow is slowly melting (sort of!) and spring is on it’s way, I’m starting to increase my long runs to eventually reach marathon distance. This month I ran my longest distance - 26km.
I had a LOVELY March break with my family and had a much needed break from work. I enjoyed several amazing dinners with some incredible family friends (shout out to you Bill and Betty!), and did lots of skiing, skating, snowshoeing and shoveling.
The TKS moonshot is coming up next month which I am pumped for! During the moonshot we are given a month to work with a team of other TKS students to create a solution to a global problem that is 10 times better than the current solution. It starts with a crazy idea that no one thinks will work, and eventually, through hard work and research, that idea gets turned into something that has the potential to revolutionize the world. To learn more about moonshot projects you can visit the Google Moonshot (X Company) website and play this ‘game’ created by X.
This month the winners of the TKS challenge will be announced. (And I will be able to share you the pitch deck we submitted to Walmart next month!)
During February I would like to focus on learning about the most notorious pests in Africa that destroy maize, as well as the most severe nutrient deficiencies in Africa. Then I would like to do research pertaining to genetic resistance to those specific pests, and precursors to each specific vitamin in the maize endosperm.
I plan on either writing an article or making a video about all the research I’ve done so far in the area of maize improvement.
And that, my friends, is my month in a nut shell! I hope that you had a wonderful March, and have an even more wonderful April!
Enjoy the sunshine and see you all in April! ☀️
Until then, feel free to reach out to me on: LinkedIn, or email me at: email@example.com
And don’t forget to hit that subscribe button on Medium and YouTube so you can read my articles and watch my videos as I publish them.
Happy April and have a lovely rest of your day!
You never cease to surpass the achievements of your last newsletter. Well done.. Your progression is astounding!
Rachel, you are absolutely incredible! I'm not the least bit surprised that you are doing some pretty amazing things. So very proud of you! And so happy I can follow along with you.