WALTHAM, MA- Deepika Kurup is only 18, but look at her awards and accolades: America’s Top Young Scientist in 2012; Grand Prize in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge; the United States President’s Environmental Youth Award; and most recently named one of the Forbes’ “30 Under 30: Energy.”
Kurup is an 18-year-old scientist, social entrepreneur, speaker and sophomore at Harvard University. She has been passionate about solving the global water crisis ever since she was in middle school, as she was exposed to the water problem at a very early age. She has represented the United States at the international Stockholm Junior Water Prize —the most prestigious youth award for a water-related science project. In addition, she was the National Geographic Explorer Award Winner in the 2015. She has also had the opportunity to speak with President Obama about her research.
Currently she is CEO and founder of Catalyst for World Water, a social enterprise aimed at bringing the water purification technology she has developed to those affected by the global water crisis. Along with research, Kurup is passionate about STEM education, and feels that STEM education has the power to revolutionize the world. She was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, and currently lives in Lexington, MA with her family.
INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?
Deepika Kurup: The work that I am doing involves developing sustainable solutions to the global water crisis. Specifically, I have been working on developing a cost-effective solar-powered water purification system. In addition to finding scientific solutions to this world’s water problem, I have also been raising awareness for the water crisis. In the last 5 years I have had the opportunity to speak to thousands of people about the importance of providing everyone with access to clean water.
INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?
DK: I am CEO and founder of Catalyst for World Water, a social enterprise aimed at finding solutions to the world’s water crisis. I am also a student at Harvard University.
INE: What are your hobbies and interests?
DK: One of my hobbies since middle school has been vlogging and creating videos. I usually have a GoPro with me and am always recording. I also really love public speaking and sharing my passion for science and solving the water crisis with others. I especially love talking with other young students!
INE: In what way do you feel you have positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field?
DK: I think that my most positive influence in my community and in the world has been motivating others to take action to solve the many challenges we face.
INE: Your rare talent?
DK: My talents include consuming copious quantities of caffeine in short periods of time and functioning on little-to-no sleep; however, this probably isn’t that rare of a talent and it definitely isn’t the healthiest of lifestyles.
INE: Your favorite books?
DK: While it may be cliché, my favorite books since childhood have always been the Harry Potter series.
INE: Your favorite quotes?
DK: I keep a list of quotes that I find interesting. One of my favorites is “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious” by Albert Einstein.
INE: Who inspires you the most?
DK: Every day I am surround by students from diverse backgrounds who are incredible hardworking and passionate about what they do. For example, I am fortunate to have peers who are working to create new policies to further space exploration, using virtual reality to treat medical disorders, developing apps that revolutionize the way we communicate and share information, and developing vaccines for cancer. These people, who are just teenagers like myself, are the ones that inspire me the most.
INE: The one person you would like to meet and why?
DK: Benjamin Franklin- he was a scientist, politician, inventor, author, and diplomat. I’m sure we would have a great conversation!
INE: Your core value you try to live by?
DK: I really like the poem “Success” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and always refer to it if I’m ever feeling stressed and overwhelmed. The poem is as follows:
What is Success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.
My core values are essentially trying to live by this definition of “success”.