Gitanjali Rao became one of the world’s most recognized inventors when Time magazine put her on their front cover in December 2020. Rao became Time’s first-ever recipient of its ‘Kid of the Year’ accolade.
At the age of just 15 years old Rao has invented three groundbreaking tools. One of Rao’s apps help fight social injustices by detecting cyberbullying, the other can detect and diagnose opioid addiction. Her third innovation identifies lead in drinking water.
Gitanjali Rao in 2018 aged just 13 has conducted research at the University of Colorado’s Department of Cell Biology to find a solution for prescription opioid addiction. By using the latest research into genetic engineering, she created a colorimetry-based app and device.
The initiative was a world finalist in the Technovation challenge and received a Health Pillar award from TCS Ignite Innovation. Gitanjali Rao first introduced the device which is due to be launched in November 2019 at the TEDtalksNayibaat India. She continues fine-tuning the device under the mentorship of Dr. Michael McMurray from the University of Colorado.
Rao has recently been included in Marvel’s Hero Project. The project puts the spotlight on extraordinary and inspiring young people striving to do better, be better, and who try to make a difference in the world.
Besides her work on opioid addiction, Gitanjali Rao is also working on implementing a Cyberbullying app. Under the guidance of Microsoft, it is based on AI/Machine Learning in the ‘KINDLY’ community. She was awarded the cyber mission STEM in Action grant to implement this solution.
In 2017, Gitanjali Rao was named America’s Top Young Scientist by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Her patent-pending device allows for lead detection in water faster than current techniques. She also won a global Paradigm science challenge and is a David Young Scholar. She has received several scholarships and achievements for science, arts, and community service.
Recognized as a ‘Forbes 30 under 30’ in 2019 for science and her innovation with regards to the lead detection tool, Gitanjali Rao is also an EPA Presidential award winner and recognized as a Gloria Barron ‘Young Hero’ Honoree for community impact.
Since their inception, Gitanjali Rao has open-sourced her lead detector invention, her colorimetry-based algorithm for opioid detection, and the app code for the community which has since been used for other applications.
A Board Director for the Children’s Kindness Network that spreads an anti-bullying message while promoting the importance of kindness, Gitanjali Rao regularly conducts workshops in elementary schools. She hopes to educate children about kindness from a young age.
Besides her work in science and technology, Gitanjali is also a prolific writer. She has won national and international awards in writing contests and published her first book, which she illustrated herself, at the age of nine years. Called ‘Baby Brother Wonders’, the book describes the world from her younger brother’s point of view.
Gitanjali Rao also won the International Aviation Art Contest for four consecutive years at the state level and was a ‘TIME for Kids’ reporter in 2018. She wrote articles bringing awareness to the Flint Crises. She is also part of the STEM Scouts and 4-H club and runs innovation and technology workshops for elementary schools across the globe.
As a speaker, Gitanjali Rao has addressed four TEDx conferences thus far, spoken at numerous girls’ and global conferences, and has been a UNICEF panelist about the role of Youth to power the planet. She lives in Denver, USA, and presents in English.