Running 50km, researching nanofertilizers, underrated global problems and goals for this year
Hi everyone! Wonderful to meet you/see you again! My name is Rachel. I am a 16 y/o activator at TKS interested in how to leverage technology to improve yields and livelihoods for small holder farmers. I have worked with gene editing to create super crops for Sub Saharan Africa, and nanofertilizers to increase yields and decrease environmental impact. I’m the cohost of the TechnoGypsie Podcast, and an ultra runner obsessed with pushing my personal limits and finding out what I’m truly capable of.
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The leaves are starting to fall, the weather is getting cooler, and school has started up again (😭🙄).
Saying goodbye to summer is always hard, but this year it was much easier knowing that I was stepping into my second year at The Knowledge Society.
Four sessions into Activate, the 2nd year program at TKS, and I am so incredibly stoked for the year ahead. We have:
Practiced breaking down problems using the 5-why analysis
Learned about the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States (medical errors!)
Explored underrated problems in the world (like the fluorosis epidemic, low quality education in Africa, power outages in India and forced child labour in Somalia)
Did a solar power case study from MIT
I have loved reconnecting with my friends, meeting new friends, and getting to know my incredible directors Brandon + Mikaela! So excited to dive deeply into problem solving mode and start to apply everything I’ve been working on to real life.
Nanotech X fertilizers
I have decided to focus on the world of nanotechnology for the next few months. Nanotech is the microscopic world smaller than atoms and molecules, measured in nanometers. To put things into perspective, a human hair is 100 000 nanometers thick. A nanoparticle is between 1-100nm. So it is incredibly small.
My focus right now is understanding at a deep level how nanoparticles are made, and why they are so expensive. In 3 months time I want to have a hypothesis as to why nanofertilizers are 5X more expensive than regular fertilizers, and a proposal to make nanofertilizers cheaper and more accessible to small scale rural farmers in Africa.
I wrote an article exploring the impact fertilizers can have on farmers in Sub Saharan Africa, and a few of the reasons why fertilizers in SSA are 3X more expensive than the rest of the world.⬇️
Connecting the dots between food insecurity, fertilizer, inflation and transportation in Sub Saharan Africa
Running an ultramarathon
If you read my last month’s newsletter you will know that I have been training for my first trail ultramarathon, a 50km race.
The race started at 7am in the dark of morning, so I was able to enjoy the sunrise in the beautiful trails, doing what I love: running. By the last quarter of the race my legs were destroyed, and it was a struggle to keep going. I literally concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. Five hours, 33 minutes and fifty-nine seconds later I crossed the finish line as the first place female!!
The race was a roller coaster of different feelings: pain, happiness, pride, and everything in between.
This race is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done, both physically and mentally, and I am proud to say that I have done my ‘new hardest thing’. I have pushed the bar for what I am capable of to much higher, and now need to find a way to nudge that bar higher again:))
Goals for this year
I have big goals for this year. Lots of mountains I want to conquer, hills I want to climb (quite literally), and things I want to do this year in Activate. Here’s a snippet of some of the things I’ll be working towards:
Going from ideation to building. Throughout Innovate I created a proposal for a transgenic strand of maize. I learned a lot, met a lot of experts in the field and grew a ton, but at the end of the day all it was, was an idea. I didn’t build anything, test anything, or make anything. By the end of this year I want to have tangible experience of going from ideation to building, and bringing an idea to life.
Building deep relationships with mentors. I have met so many incredible entrepreneurs, scientists, and everything in between, but none of these relationships have developed into something long term. I want to work towards building deep relationships with mentors who can help support and guide me through my projects.
Developing life-long friendships. My favorite part of TKS is the people. The incredible community of supportive, ambitious, unconventional people that push me to be better and pull me up when I’m feeling down. I am lucky enough to have met two of my best friends through TKS (thank you Apoorva and Ciara I love you both so much!!!). This year I want to prioritize experiences with my friends and family, because at the end of the day, in life, it is the people that really matter.
Speaking on stage at a conference.
Run the David Goggins challenge. (run 4 miles, every 4 hours, for 48 hours)
Recorded some incredible conversations this month about quantum computing, biotech X AI and human centric design! Check out our most recent episodes below and stay updated on the website for the episodes we release weekly.
Other cool things that happened month
I officially published my personal website! This has been such a fun project that I really enjoyed, and am super proud of how it turned out. Check it out!
During our second Activate session about important world problems, we were put in breakout rooms and challenged to write a memo about an underrated problem in the world (we had 90min). My team and I research the lack of access to pain relief in Armenia. Read our memo to learn about why this is such a massive problem and the millions of lives it effects worldwide.
I made bagels from scratch!
I turned 16! Had a great 16th birthday with my awesome family 🎉🎈🎂
Write an article about my experience running an ultramarathon and finding my ‘new hardest thing.’
Write an article about the different ways nanoparticles are made, and the pros and cons for each method.
TKS hackathon is coming up in October where we work in teams on an idea to solve a big problem in the world.
Exploring water pollution @TKS
Celebrating Thanksgiving 🍂 and Halloween 👻
And that, my friends, is what I have been up to this month! It has been a jam packed month (as always) full of researching, learning, running and growing.
Thank you for sticking with me till the end! See you all in 30ish days. Have a wonderful October!
Thanks for reading! ❤️Rachel
Personal website, LinkedIn, Medium, YouTube
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Love it, Rachel. We need to do a braindate soon :)
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