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 TEDxIB@YorkSchool, 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. Restaurant review: Let the food and outstanding cocktails at CW's Gin Joint transport you back to the 1920s

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA

    Maybe it's the twinkling chandeliers. All skajillion of them. Or maybe it is the rhythmic syncopation of ice cubes in shiny shakers. It could be the old-timey metal dessert cart with its silver cloches and chafing dishes, or else the chummy-but-menacing tuxedoed guy at the door who gives you the once-over …

  2. Video gives animated tour of new Pier District

    Local Government

    Eager to see what the new Pier District will look like? A new animated video takes you on a bird's eye and close-up tour of the $76 million waterfront attraction.

  3. Restaurant review: 1895 Kitchen Bar Market needs to do a lot more to stand out in downtown Tampa

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA

    Just a block away from CW's Gin Joint, the folks at Urban Juice Co. have retooled, taking the historic Franklin building, one of the city's oldest, erected in 1895, and re-envisioning it in September as 1895 Kitchen-Bar-Market, a "Southern comfort bar and kitchen" concept where the cocktails are fueled by …

  4. Is Gilbert Gottfried really that annoying in real life?

    Stage

    A new documentary about comedian Gilbert Gottfried reveals someone more mild-mannered than his stage persona, married with children, verging on dull.

  5. Reasons elusive as Pinellas EMS demand skyrockets

    Public Safety

    When the fire chief asked if anyone in the room had fallen before, a few in the gray- and white-haired crowd raised their hands.