Gitanjali Rao is an Indian American young scientist, inventor, author, and community volunteer who was selected as the ‘Kid of the Year’ by TIME magazine on 4 December 2020. She was given this award for her contribution to the field of science. With the help of the technology available to her and her knowledge, she took the initiative to fight issues ranging from contamination in drinking water to cyberbullying.
Gitanjali Rao was born on Saturday, November 15, 2005 (age 15 years; as of 2020), in Lone Tree, Colorado, United States of America. Her zodiac sign is Scorpio. Gitanjali’s parents noticed her interest in science when she was in second or third grade. She wished to use science and technology to bring social changes in society. At the age of 10, she told her parents that she wanted to conduct research at Denver Water Quality Research Lab on carbon nanotube sensor technology. Gitanjali Rao attended the STEM Highlands Ranch High School in Colorado. She studied the STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in school, and she is an active STEM promoter.
Eye Colour: Black
Hair Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Gitanjali Rao’s father’s name is Ram Rao, and her mother’s name is Bharathi Rao. She has a younger brother, Anu Rao.
Gitanjali Rao is a writer and she published a self-illustrated book titled, “Baby Brother Wonders” in the year 2015.
In 2017, Gitanjali decided to work on developing a device that would help in detecting the amount of lead content present in water. Gitanjali started working on the device with the help of a research scientist at 3M. She developed a device with a 9-volt battery, a lead sensing unit, a processor, and a Bluetooth extension. She named the device ‘Tethys.’ In 2017, Gitanjali’s prototype was successful in detecting the lead content in water, and she won the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and the $25,000 cash prize for the invention. Later in 2017, she collaborated with the Denver Water Facility and prepared an improved prototype for the invention. Gitanjali is a three-time TEDx speaker, and on 10 August 2018, she appeared in ‘The Tonight Show’ with Jimmy Fallon where she demonstrated her invention ‘Tethys’ on national television. According to Gitanjali, her goal is to study genetics and epidemiology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. She also works as a self-employed developer, and she developed an app and Google Chrome extension ‘Kindly’ that provides the facility of real-time check of content to find for any cyber-bullying content.
Awards & Honours
- In 2017, Gitanjali won the ‘Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and was awarded $25,000.
- In 2018, Gitanjali was honoured with the United States Environmental Protection Agency President’s Environmental Youth Award.
- In May 2019, she was awarded the Top ‘Health’ Pillar Prize for the TCS Ignite Innovation Student Challenge.
- Gitanjali Rao was selected as the first-ever ‘Kid of the Year’ by TIME Magazine on December 4, 2020.
— TIME (@TIME) December 3, 2020
- Gitanjali was selected among the five finalists out of 5,000 American kids from the age of 8 to the age of 16. These five finalists were selected for the ‘Kid of the Year’ title by TIME magazine, and Gitanjali won the competition and became the first-ever ‘Kid of the Year.’ She was featured on TIME magazine’s cover page, and Hollywood actress and social activist, Angelina Jolie took her interview for the magazine’s feature.
- Gitanjali won the title of ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’ in 2017 for her invention ‘Tethys.’ In 2019, she also featured on the Forbes “30 under 30” list.
- During her interview with Angelina Jolie, Gitanjali talked about how traditionally the media had shown an older, usually white man as a scientist, in TV shows or during commercials. She wished to make a change to this conventional approach of society and bring a change in it. In conversation with Angelina Jolie on a Zoom video call, Gitanjali told the actress that she wanted to spread the message that if she could achieve the feat to become a scientist at such a young age, then anyone would do it.
- Gitanjali was awarded the Top “Health” Pillar Prize at the TCS Ignite Innovation Student Challenge in May 2019 for developing a tool that helped in the diagnosis of prescription opioid addiction.
- On receiving the title of ‘Kid of the Year’ from TIME magazine, people across the globe came forward to congratulate her including Chef Vikas Khanna, Anand Mahindra from Mahindra & Mahindra, Shah Rukh Khan, etc.
Time magazine has selected 15-year-old scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao as its first-ever Kid of the Year.
This is AWESOMEEEE.
Congrats Gitanjali & her parents Bharathi and Ram Rao. @timeforkids @TIME @KeithGrossman pic.twitter.com/Th0sBYsY5F
— Vikas Khanna (@TheVikasKhanna) December 3, 2020