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. Editorial: Tampa Electric customers should not pay for utility's fatal misjudgments

    Editorials

    There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers. Monetary considerations will not begin to …

    LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers.
  2. Superior Uniform acquires Los Angeles-based PublicIdentity

    Corporate

    SEMINOLE — A subsidiary of Seminole-based Superior Uniform Group has acquired Los Angeles-based branded merchandise company PublicIdentity Inc.

    Superior Uniform Group CEO Michael Benstock
[Courtesy of Superior Uniform Group]
  3. Money is the issue as Hillsborough strains to fix school air conditioners

    K12

    TAMPA — With more than 200 repair requests tumbling in every day, school officials in Hillsborough County are broadening their circle of air conditioning mechanics as they struggle to control a debilitating cycle of breakdowns and sweltering classrooms.

    Hillsborough school officials want to expand the number of contractors who work on broken school air conditioning systems. But it all gets rolled into a workload that has increased by 40 percent since 2011. "With no increase in budget, no increase in equipment and no increase in manpower, and as the equipment gets older and needs more maintenance, this is going to continue to grow," said Robert Weggman, general manager of maintenance." [iStockphoto.com
]
  4. At Bayonet Point Middle School, solar eclipse becomes a lesson

    K12

    NEW PORT RICHEY — At 2:30 Monday afternoon, students and faculty members streamed out of their classrooms and onto the athletic fields at Bayonet Point Middle School. The attraction: the solar eclipse.

    Isiah Echevarria, 10, left, and Andy Shaw, 11, right, take in the solar eclipse during a schoolwide viewing Monday afternoon at Bayonet Point Middle School in New Port Richey. "It's pretty cool," said Andy, 11. "This is actually my first eclipse. The next eclipse won't be for at least 30 years."
  5. Estimated 5,000 people marvel at MOSI over solar eclipse

    Human Interest

    Packing pinhole cereal box viewers, cardboard glasses and curiosity, solar gawkers gathered outside Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry on Monday for a show that required no ticket.

    At center, Sophia Butter, 8, and Kristina Butera, both of Valrico, watch the sun through eclipse viewing glasses during a solar eclipse party Monday at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. MOSI will reopen after renovations on November 18. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]