NEW YORK: An Indian-American student at a US university has won the changing entrepreneurship and outstanding teaching awards at an annual awards ceremony for co-founding a company that can detect bacteria in water.
Nisarg Patel of the Arizona State University (ASU) was given the awards at the annual Pitchfork Awards ceremony in the institute for co-founding HyrdoGene Biotechnologies, the College Times reported on Friday.
According to Patel, his group creates biosensors that can detect bacteria in water.
The group reprogrammes bacteria to produce a protein biosensor that then purifies from the bacteria.
“They package it in a sugar-like cube that will dissolve when dropped in water. The protein will then bind to any bacteria; if there are bacteria, the water will turn red as a warning sign to avoid drinking it,” the report said.
The idea for this technology came when one of Patel’s laboratory partners, who went to Guatemala, saw children there looking at water and drinking it if it seemed clear.
“They don’t realise it’s contaminated with bacteria that they can’t see, so that’s one of the issues we’re trying to solve,” Patel was quoted as saying.
“Even if your idea is small, the fact that there are so many of you means one small impact after another can really make a difference.”
Rohit Rajan, a biochemistry sophomore at ASU and Patel’s roommate, described the latter as a pretty laid back person who could also be very focused and determined.
“He’s enjoying everything he does,” Rajan was quoted as saying.
This is the second year that the Pitchfork Awards were presented at ASU.
A total of 95 students were selected as finalists by a committee of university faculty and staff.